Bodleian and Vatican Libraries Will Digitize 1.5 Million Ancient Texts From Their Collections

Two of the world’s greatest libraries, Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries and the Vatican’s Biblioteca Apostolica, will digitize 1.5 million ancient texts to make them available online. The project will take four years and has been made possible by a multimillion dollar grant from the Polonsky Foundation.

Both libraries house incredibly rare books and Biblioteca Apostolica, which has in its collection a complete Bible written around 1,100 as well as works by Homer and Plato, is famous for how difficult it is to get access. The only person allowed to borrow books from them is the Pope. (Professional art hater Morley Safer did a great story about visiting the library for 60 Minutes. He was–understandably–more impressed with the place than he was with Art Basel Miami Beach.)

The digitization project will focus on Greek manuscripts, 15th-century printed books and early Hebrew printed books because of “the strength of the collections in both libraries and their importance for scholarship in their respective fields,” a Bodleian spokesperson told the BBC.