Hidden Stories Project

U of T researchers lead international collaboration on centuries-old books

"The Hidden Stories project will run from November 2022 to January 2027 and aims to explore the systems, peoples and cultures that make a book, including its physical and biological properties that reveal new knowledge. Everything from fungal growth on its pages to the trade routes involved in the materials used to make the book will be studied.


Some of these books are so fragile that opening them to read would destroy the manuscript. To get past this hurdle and access its contents, researchers conduct micro-CT scans of the book, layer by layer – not page by page. Because the pages are wavy, and both the ink and the page are made of carbon, reconstructing a 3D model of the scanned layers involves the use of AI.

The project leaders are [Alexandra] Gillespie, Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) Professor Suzanne Conklin Akbari, and University of Toronto Libraries (UTL) IT Director Sian Meikle, who will provide oversight for project goals and outcomes. Akbari was a professor at U of T for nearly 25 years, including serving as director for the Centre for Medieval Studies between 2013 and 2018 before moving to IAS in New Jersey. She was the co-curator for the Aga Khan Museum exhibition from which the project sprang."

Read more at University of Toronto.