The unique pre-1700 materials in Italy’s famed Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (BNCF) will be accessible around the world thanks to a new agreement between ProQuest and the Library. ProQuest will digitize BNCF’s rich primary sources from the 16th and 17th centuries and make them fully searchable in Early European Books Online™, its recently released archive of rare works. The content will be made freely available to everyone within Italy, enabling all those users to explore the materials.
The selection of 3,000-4,000 volumes to be digitized includes rare early editions of major Classical and Renaissance authors, some of them owned and annotated by important authors. Researchers can read Galileo’s own handwritten marginal notes on his private copies of works by Euclid, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso and Orazio. About 1,000 volumes are included from the Aldine Press, the first printing press to publish in the smaller “octavo” book size. These “pocket classics” include the 1515 edition of Dante’s Divine Comedy with the famous woodcut diagram of the circles of Hell.
Early European Books Online™ is an extension of the Early Books project initiated in 1934 by ProQuest founder Eugene B. Power and is part of a larger project aimed at digitizing the printed heritage of mainland Europe from the beginnings of printing through the close of the 17th century.