About the Bassi Veratti Collection

The online Bassi-Veratti Collection brings historical primary source materials to scholars and students around the world. It consists of an online interface offering access to the digitized versions of all of the materials of the Bassi-Veratti Collection at the Archiginnasio in Bologna. Access is via a detailed archival inventory, or finding aid. This inventory has been tagged so that researchers can search using keywords and index terms. Because the inventory’s contents are linked to the corresponding digital images, scholars can easily navigate from the descriptions of the materials to the digital facsimiles.

It is important to note that this online archive contains only the materials found in the Bassi Veratti Collection in the Archiginnasio. Additional materials on Laura Bassi and her world can be found in other libraries and archives in Bologna and elsewhere, including important correspondence in the Archiginnasio's "Collezione degli autografi".

Bassi-Veratti Website Introduction Video

Technical summary

The inventory, or finding aid, was transposed by hand from a Microsoft Word document to Encoded Archival Description (EAD), an international standard XML schema maintained by the Library of Congress in partnership with the Society of American Archivists. EAD 2002, the latest approved version, allows the standardization of collection information in finding aids within and across repositories. As an XML schema, it affords an environment for tagging of key terms, which can be extracted and indexed to enhance discovery in a customized online environment. The Stanford University Libraries (SUL) team took advantage of the richly-described collection inventory created by Archiginnasio partners, and increased searchability of the collection by tagging both family and personal names, geographic locations and corporate names associated with the individual documents listed. This information, along with document dates harvested from the EAD XML, and a list of document types generated – were used to construct the indexes for the online discovery environment for the collection.

Digitization of the 672 items (6000 total images) in the Bassi-Veratti collection was conducted by Italian Vendor AdACTA s.r.l under the direction and guidance of digitization experts from SUL. Using an I2s Suprascan Digibook 10.0, AdACTA conformed to Stanford University Libraries (SUL) image file specifications to produce archival master TIFF files. Image files were compressed using TIFF 6.0 LZW, with a spatial frequency of 400 ppi, non-interpolated, a bit depth of 8 and an Adobe RGB (1998) color space. As specified by SUL, throughout the imaging workflow Image Science Associates Golden Thread targets were used by the vendor. This enabled the employment of thorough quality control by SUL’s image quality staff. Derivative JPEG 2000 images were generated from the master TIFF files, and re-purposed for viewing on the web site.

The images (TIFFs and JPEG 2000s) and associated metadata were assembled and accessioned into the Stanford Digital Repository (SDR). The SDR ensures each digital object is preserved, made available via a persistent URL (web address), enforces content rights and restrictions and provides a common storage mechanism for other applications to build upon. Further, the SDR provides long-term preservation, access and management of content deposited by SUL partners. Through a combination of technologies and infrastructure as well as programmatic processes and policies, SDR offers:

  • Preservation – secure preservation environment designed to ensure the long-term availability, integrity and accessibility of content.
  • Access – support for discovery, delivery and persistent citation of objects.
  • Management – ability to administer and manage aspects of the content such as defining access control.

The collection web site was designed and developed using open source technologies that SUL development staff employ for all SUL discovery and access solutions. The Bassi-Veratti digital collection is built on top of the Stanford Digital Repository to provide a web based platform for discovery of archival documents and their associated descriptive information. The digital collection was developed in Ruby on Rails using Blacklight. Blacklight provides the discovery interface and uses an Apache Solr index, constructed by mining the Bassi EAD XML for relevant data elements.

Providing users with a fast and versatile means of smoothly viewing, zooming, and panning large, high-resolution images of manuscript pages was a critical challenge for the project. The image presentation component of the site takes advantage of JPEG2000 image file compression and an image server application that dynamically decodes JPEG2000 files for viewing and manipulation in the web browser without the need for plug-in or other third-party software.

The Bassi-Veratti Collection web site design is based on a user-centered approach taken by SUL to develop online collection websites. This methodology involves early and iterative feedback from the primary audience of SUL’s online collections – academic researchers. It results in a web application that helps them achieve their research goals and increases the efficiency of the software development process. This comprehensive process includes:

  • Interviews with key researchers – faculty, staff and students
  • Persona development, enabling creation of in-depth character sketches, which not only describe research goals and behaviors, but also some personal characteristics
  • Design, including the organization of content and functions on the web site, and any site-specific requirements
  • Wireframes, or sketches of the web site pages, and overall visual design

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