Thursday, November 5, 2015

Cambridge Digital Library

Cambridge Digital Library
Over the course of six centuries Cambridge University Library's collections have grown from a few dozen volumes into one of the world's great libraries, with an extraordinary accumulation of books, maps, manuscripts and journals. These cover every conceivable aspect of human endeavour, spanning most of the world's cultural traditions. While parts of the Library's manuscript collections have already been published in print, microfilm and digital formats, we are now building a substantial online resource so that our collections can be much more accessible to students, researchers and the wider public.

The first phase of our work on the Cambridge Digital Library, which ran from 2010 to 2014 was made possible through a lead gift of £1.5m from Dr Leonard Polonsky. This generous support has enabled the Library to develop its technical infrastructure and create significant content, particularly in the areas of faith and science - two areas of strength within our collections. It has also enabled us to attract funding from other sources, including the AHRC, NSF, NEH, JISC and other private donors.

The Foundations of Faith strand of content includes important works from many religious traditions, particularly Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism. In its initial phase, the Digital Library has made available some of the earliest Qur'anic fragments on parchment, important manuscripts in Hebrew, including one of the earliest known copies of the Ten Commandments - the second- century BCE Nash Papyrus, and a large selection of manuscripts from the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, considered by many to be a collection as significant as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Our online Christian holdings include the Codex Bezae Cantabrigiensis - one of the most interesting of all New Testament manuscripts, and the remarkable Book of Deer. The end of this first phase is also marked by the release of more than 500 manuscripts from the Library's extensive Sanskrit collection, including some of the earliest surviving Buddhist manuscripts.

The Foundations of Science content draws on the very strong collections the Library holds relating to the History of Science. We began with the papers of Isaac Newton and by the end of this phase have launched the first part of a major release of Darwin's manuscripts - the papers and drafts that led to The Origin of Species. We have also released the Papers of the Board of Longitude, a fascinating and substantial archive charting scientific and technological endeavors in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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