Digitization on Demand

The Interlibrary Services department at Watson Library supports the research activities of Metropolitan Museum of Art staff by obtaining books, print or electronic copies of journal articles and other texts that are not available in the Museum’s libraries.  Interlibrary Services also supports the research needs of colleagues around the world by lending our materials or providing digital scans when possible.

Periodically, requests are received for items that, due to age or condition, are not be able to travel.  Since September 2011, Interlibrary Services has been digitizing these items rather than canceling the borrowing library’s request.  This initiative has been named “digitization on demand” because the items that are digitized have not already been pre-selected for digitization.

One example of an item that was digitized on demand, The Eglinton Tournament: dedicated to the Earl of Eglinton, 1839, came in as a loan request from the Wells Library at Indiana University:

Title page

Title page

According to WorldCat, this item, published in 1839, is only available in six libraries (three of which are in the US).  This fascinating account of a tournament held at a castle in North Ayrshire, Scotland will be of interest to scholars studying chivalry, arms and armor, lithographs and related subjects.

The work begins with a detailed textual account of the tournament, followed by nine plates of lithographs that capture spectators viewing the event, various tournament battles, and scenes from the post-tournament ball.


The Lord of the Tournament as Victor Presented to the Queen of Beauty


The Melee at the Eglinton Passage of Arms


Ball Room at Eglinton Castle

Other Interlibrary Services requests that have been filled by the digitization on demand initiative include:

These books are now available to all our users in the Rare Books in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Libraries collection.

The digitization on demand program supports the “Watson Library Digitization Initiative to expand access to the Library’s rare and unique materials by developing, supporting, and promoting a distinctive digital collection of these items” and by making “them accessible to support the scholarly endeavors of Metropolitan Museum of Art staff and an international community of researchers” as stated on the Digital Collections homepage.