£1.5m donation to support Bodleian's digitisation programme

A gift of £1.5million has been given to the Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford to support library digitisation initiatives as well the digital imaging facilities in the redeveloped New Bodleian Library (to be known as the Weston Library upon reopening).

This important donation by Dr Leonard Polonsky, an alumnus and major benefactor of Lincoln College, Oxford, marks another step forward in the £78 million redevelopment of the New Bodleian Library which will transform it into a major research centre and a significant new cultural centre. With Dr Polonsky’s support, the Weston Library will feature a state-of-the-art studio for digital imaging where the most valuable and fragile printed books and papers from the Bodleian can be scanned and made accessible online. Additionally, Dr Polonsky’s donation will transform a range of materials in the Bodleian to promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship. Among items selected for digitisation in 2010- 2011 will be Oxford theses, Islamic manuscripts, and a portion of Oxford’s Genizah fragments. The Bodleian’s winter exhibition, Shelley’s Ghost: Reshaping the Image of a Literary Family, which opens in December 2010, will be accompanied by an online exhibition made possible through the Polonsky gift. Future years will bring support for a variety of digitisation initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.

Dr Sarah Thomas, Bodley’s Librarian, said: ‘Oxford has been at the forefront in digitising its collections and making them accessible to the world of internet users, yet only a small fraction of its vast holdings have been scanned. Dr Polonsky’s generous gift allows us to extend our capacity and to partner with humanities scholars and others for whom developments in digital scholarship are unleashing creativity and transforming the investigation of the historic documents.’

The Bodleian Libraries are making their collections, books, ephemera and other material available in digital format by working in collaboration with partners including ProQuest, ARTstor, JISC, Google and the Alexander Street Press. Examples of Bodleian digital collections include Electronic Enlightenment, Medieval Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, The John Johnson Collection: An Archive of Printed Ephemera, Shakespeare Quartos Archive, Digital Shikshapatri, The Book of Curiosities and Bodleian Broadside Ballads.

Dr Polonsky’s gift is a significant contribution to Oxford Thinking: The Campaign for the University of Oxford, the largest fundraising campaign in European university history, with a goal of a minimum of £1.25 billion to support world-class research, teaching and facilities for the university and its colleges. With this donation the Oxford Thinking campaign has raised over £800m, less than six years after fundraising began.

For further information on the Bodleian Libraries contact:
Sarah Henderson, Head of Library Communications, Tel: +44 (0) 1865 287398
Email: sarah.henderson@bodleian.ox.ac.uk

OR

Oana Romocea, Communications Officer, Tel: +44 (0) 1865 277627
Email: oana.romocea@bodleian.ox.ac.uk
www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk

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