Escape into online treasures #1

Without a doubt, among the great wonders of digitisation are the treasures it’s opened to the world.

In December last year, the Vatican Library and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library launched a project to make freely available online ancient texts from their incredible collections.

Both institutions have been digitising their collections prior to this. But the present project allows them to increase digital access on a much larger scale.

The Bodleian trove disseminated online last month includes no less than its Gutenberg Bible (1455).

The project’s been supported by a ₤2 million award from the Polonsky Foundation. You can read more about the foundation here, and about one of the trustees driving the project, Dr Leonard Polonsky and the foundation’s reasons for supporting the project. Continue reading

An abiding passion for books (part 3)

As one who’s been so close to the many magnificent collections in the State Library, does Paul have a favourite item, that’s stayed a favourite through his career? The 18th-century specialist doesn’t hesitate.

‘It’s the Endeavour journal of Joseph Banks,’ he says. ‘It’s the first account of our nation by a European. Banks wrote it on the voyage in 1768–71, and returned to Britain with it.’

Joseph Banks Esq, 1774. William Dickinson after Sir Joshua Reynolds (National Portrait Gallery, http://www.portrait.gov.au/site/collection.php)
Joseph Banks Esq, 1774 (National Portrait Gallery, Australia)

‘When Flinders set out on his voyage, sponsored by Banks, Banks gave him the journal to use. Continue reading