Between 2012 and 2017 the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana (Vatican Library) joined efforts in a landmark digitization project with the aim of opening up their repositories of ancient texts. More than 1.5 million pages from their remarkable collections have been made freely available online to researchers and to the general public.

The initiative was made possible by a £2 million award from The Polonsky Foundation. Dr Leonard Polonsky, who is committed to democratizing access to information, sees the increase of digital access to these two library collections — among the greatest in the world — as a significant step in sharing intellectual resources on a global scale.

Dr Polonsky said: ‘Twenty-first-century technology provides the opportunity for collaborations between cultural institutions in the way they manage, disseminate and make available for research the information, knowledge and expertise they hold. I am pleased to support this exciting new project where the Bodleian Libraries and the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana will make important collections accessible to scholars and the general public worldwide.’

The digitization project has focussed on three main groups of texts: Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts, and incunabula, or 15th-century printed books. These groups were chosen for their scholarly importance and for the strength of their collections in both libraries, and they include both religious and secular texts. An important group of Latin texts in the Vatican Library has also been made available online.

From this website you can:

- Access all the digitized items, which are listed by shelfmark

- Browse the digitized items by subject, date, and place of origin

- Explore highlights from the digitized collections

- Learn more about the project itself

The digitized pages are viewed in the Libraries’ image platforms: Digital.Bodleian and DigiVatLib.