The global popularity of the Internet and the ready access to information via web searches has led people to expect access to almost any kind of cultural material via a web browser.
As Burnable books states, it’s hardly controversial to note that the digital revolution over the last ten to twenty years has changed the face of medieval studies. Nearly every major manuscript archive has launched a digitization project, with hundreds of high-resolution images added every week, it seems, and eye-catching portals inviting new users to click through and examine the treasures within.
Medieval manuscripts have entered the era of Big Data, a phrase that emerged a couple of years ago to capture the character of information storage, retrieval, accessibility, and usage in the networked worlds of the early twenty-first century.
Burnable Books will feature over the next several months a series of invited guest posts on the topic “Medieval Studies in the Age of Big Data.” Medieval Studies in the Age of Big The Data serial forum is worth reading, especially as it deals with the issues of big data, digitisation, digital revolution, speed vs wisdom, culture and knowledge.
The Bibliotheca Apostolica, as the Vatican Library is known, is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains nearly 90,000 historic books, documents, papyrus texts and other ancient treasures. Among its treasures are early copies of works by Aristotle, Dante, Euclid, Homer, and Virgil. Yet today access to the Library is limited. Because of the time and cost required to travel to Rome, only some 2000 scholars can afford to visit the Library each year.
Digitizing its contents in order to preserve the Vatican’s historic treasures and make them available to scholars and historians around the world has become a priority, and the Vatican is embarking upon a multi-year project to digitize, store, archive and put the entire collection on line.
Image: Rothschild Canticles (in Latin) cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by Beinecke Library
- Vatican Preservation (stevetodd.typepad.com)
- Israeli library unveils ancient Afghan manuscripts (sfgate.com)
- Houses in medieval illuminated manuscripts (blogs.independent.co.uk)
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No mediated access can approach holding the book in your hands….
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