The Vatican’s Old Manuscripts are Now Digital and Free to Browse

Thanks to the Polonsky Foundation, some of the Vatican’s old manuscripts are now available online. The website went live this week and includes manuscripts from both the Vatican and the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford.

The Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library) have joined efforts in a landmark digitization project with the aim of opening up their repositories of ancient texts. Over the course of the next four years, 1.5 million pages from their remarkable collections will be made freely available online to researchers and to the general public.

The initiative has been made possible by a £2 million award from the Polonsky Foundation. Dr Leonard Polonsky, who is committed to democratizing access to information, sees the increase of digital access to these two library collections — among the greatest in the world — as a significant step in sharing intellectual resources on a global scale.

 

Earlier this year, we reported that the Vatican was planning to digitize its entire library, and if this is the result, it looks promising. Not all of the manuscripts are completed, but once they are, you can view them on the Polonsky’s new website under browse. There, you can see thumbnails of individual manuscripts that will link to a description of the book along with a link to read the entire manuscript. Each catalog description also details information about the physical book including binding, the number of pages, and the purchase cost of the book.

For further reading, you should visit the Polonsky’s blog, a great resource about the project’s  manuscript selection, digitization, and indexing.