The Web Library: Building a World Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources

Online companion to the book. Frequently updated: last update = 12-14-05
copyright Nick Tomaiuolo 2005

New Category: Rare Books

"Turning the Pages" at the British Library and the National Library of Medicine
Using animation software, the digitized images of rare and beautiful historic books are available for site visitors to virtually "leaf through." You can also zoom in on the pages for more detail while reading or listening to explanations of the text. Three books are currently available at the NLM; 12 titles, including da Vinci's "Sketchbook" are available at the British Library.

Census of the Gutenberg Bible
Provided by rare bookseller Clausen Books in Colorado. These pages also state a chronological history of the bible.

The Gutenberg Museum
Official museum dedicated to the work of the inventor of movable type, Johann Gutenberg, located in Mainz, Germany. These pages also include a census of the Gutenberg Bible.

Library of Congress Rare Book Division Bibliophiles must visit this site: On the left side of the page, explore the Digitized Rare & Special Collections, the Illustrated Guide to the Collections, and the List of Selected Special Collections.

World Health Organization
Includes documents acquired by the Office International d'Hygiène Publique on epidemics including plagues and smallpox. Documents are in PDF and date back to the 1500s.

New York Botanical Garden Rare Book Digitization Project
Rare 19th century works on American trees by French botanists André and François-André Michaux. Browseable and searchable.

Duke University Library: Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library
digital images of over 16,000 pages of sheet music from 3042 pieces published in the United States between 1850 and 1920 and the Duke Papyrus Archive.

see also --
3D Digital Rare Book Library
From the University of North Carolina. A long term project aimed at digitizing rare books to allow the individual viewing the items to emulate actually handling the item. A "novel" albeit nascent format. One book is presently available.

Digital Scriptorum
Links to medieval manuscripts.

Digital Scriptorum Newcastle
Eleven digitized rare books.

Digital Special Collections and Rare Books (University of Missouri)
Including magazine covers from 9/11

EEBO (Early English Books Online)
A subscription database from Proquest Learning (i.e., not available without charge), but mentioned here because it is so impressive. Though these items are in the public domain, only Proquest has had the resources to digitize them. Full text of every book printed in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and every book in the English language printed abroad, from 1475 to 1700.

Manuscripts at the Vatican
A beautiful, though not expansive site.

A resource for libraries and collectors wishing to purchase digitized rare books or to outsource their own holdings for digitization.

University of California (Berkeley)
Search for medieval and renaissance manuscripts at 21 libraries.


Back to The Web Library

Hit Counter