Thursday, April 15, 2010

Internet Archive reaches Two Million Free Texts

The Internet Archive has announced that with the posting of the medieval manuscript, Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent, they have now reached their 2,000,000th free digital text. Internet Archive has been scanning books and making them available for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public for free on since 2005.

“This 1,000 year old book which has only been seen by a select few people, can, with the technology of today, be shared with millions tomorrow," said Robert Miller, Director of Books of the Internet Archive. "Selecting this title for the 2 millionth text is a fitting tribute to the team of scanners who have been carefully working for the past 5 years.”

The Homiliary manuscript was copied on parchment by at least three different scribes at the important medieval Abbey of St. Martin in Tours less than 100 years after having been composed by Heiric of Auxerre and is the oldest known copy of Heiric’s original text. The manuscript was scanned from the University of Toronto's Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies (PIMS) Library collection.

Jonathan Bengtson, Director of Library and Archives, University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto and Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, said that “this rare and beautiful treasure from the first millennium of Christianity, is one of the gems in the renowned collection of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. The Institute is dedicated to transmitting the inheritance of the Middle Ages to new generations; to deepening our understanding of the life and ideals of Western culture in the time of its first youth."

The University of Toronto has been one of the major partners of the Internet Archive, digitizing books at the rate of over 500 pages an hour, 14 hours a day, 5 days a week. The manuscript and out of copyriight books held at the PIMS Library will be scanned and added to the Internet Archive in the coming year.

Bengtson, one of the main coordinators of the project, notes that the Internet Archive is extremely useful to medieval scholars. "Beyond simply wider and easier access to the digital texts," he explains, "the library is actively collaborating internationally with efforts to build digital tools to exploit computing power in textual, linguistic and visual analyses of digital books and manuscripts."

Some titles of interest to medievalist include:

Homiliary on Gospels from Easter to first Sunday of Advent

Chronicles of the Crusades

A Mediaeval burglary

The Battle Abbey roll, with some account of the Norman lineages

The Internet Archive is a nonprofit digital library based in San Francisco that specializes in offering broad public access to digitized and born-digital books, music, movies and Web pages. It partners with the University of Toronto and over 150 libraries and universities around the world to create a freely accessible archive of texts representing a wide range texts which include non-fiction and fiction books, research and academic texts, popular books, children's books and historical texts.

Click here to go to the Internet Archive

Source: Internet Archive