Another step forward in providing open access to the world’s intellectual heritage has just been announced. According to an article at the Phys.Org site [formerly PhysOrg.com], the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana at the Vatican have announced a joint project to digitize some of their books, manuscripts, and other holdings for open access.
Among the items to be digitized will be ancient Greek manuscripts, 15th century printed books, Hebrew manuscripts and astronomical writings.
The project, estimated to take about four years and to cost about £2 million (about $3.2 million), is being funded by a grant from the Polonsky Foundation, the same organization that backed the recently launched Einstein Archive, and the digitization of Sir Isaac Newton’s manuscripts at the University of Cambridge. The libraries estimate that the new project will result in about 1.5 million pages being newly available online.
This work will undoubtedly be a great convenience to scholars, who will be able to consult these documents without making a journey to Oxford or the Vatican; perhaps more important, it will make access to the material available to many who would otherwise have no realistic chance of ever seeing it.