Sunday, June 06, 2010

Cambridge University Library Digitise Their Treasures


Cambridge University Library has been a legal deposit library since 1710 and since that date has acquired a copy of each book and journal published in the UK and Ireland. As you can expect this means that the libraries shelves are expanding at a rate of two miles per year and currently house some 8 million books and periodicals and 1 million maps. Cambridge University Library now is embarking on creating a "digital library for the world" by digitising its collection.

The programme follows a pledge of £1.5m from Dr Polonsky, founder of the Polonsky-Coexist Lectureship in Jewish Studies at the University.

The library contains some of the greatest books published, including the papers of Isaac Newton and a number of the oldest and most significant Qur'ans ever to be uncovered, as well an eighth Century copy of Surat al-Anfal, the eighth chapter of the Qur'an.It also holds the Jewish Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection of some 193,000 fragments of manuscripts as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls and one of the most important Greek New Testament manuscripts.

If successful, further funding will be sought to add the collections of Charles Darwin, James Clerk Maxwell, and Stephen Hawking, along with other major collections in the fields of humanities and social sciences.

So with national libraries all starting to have similar programmes, The British library digitising newsprint and Google hovering up anything that it can, who will have the authoritative new digital equivalent of the library of Alexandria.

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