Before the invention of printing, books were copied by hand, either on paper, parchment or vellum (calf skin). Many of these manuscripts were decorated to some degree, for example, with decorated initials, borders and miniature illustrations.
In the making of an illuminated manuscript, the text was usually written first. After the general layout of the page was planned (initial capital, borders), the page was lightly ruled. The text was copied first, followed by the illustrations.
The illuminated manuscripts in the Library are mostly of a modest, but nonetheless stunning nature.