Christian Dunkel
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Special Subject Librarian for Japan

The hurdles of properly presenting Japanese handscrolls online - a work in progress report

The collection of early modern Japanese books and manuscripts in the East Asia Department of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin also contains about fifty handscrolls dating from the Edo-period. They were digitized during a project running from 2010 until 2014 and are freely available online to the public in the Digitized Collections of the library ( Given the technological environment of the library, so far they could only be presented as single images, enabling the user to view only limited sections of the scroll i.e. one image at a time and by that somewhat limiting the viewing-experience and not doing justice to the scroll-format.

The advances of IIIF technology in recent years have enabled us to work on this problem. Together with the library’s IT-Department we started a small project which will hopefully result in a more adequate presentation of our scrolls by the end of 2022. In this work-in-progress-report I would like to introduce the project and share the experiences we have made so far. Maybe they are of interest for other institutions that think of presenting their large-scale materials like maps or scrolls as well.