Bodleian Libraries reach the milestone of 1 millionth image online for public access

The Bodleian Libraries has reached a significant milestone in its online digital library allowing over 1 million images from its collections to be seen and freely used anywhere in the world.

Launched in 2015, the Digital Bodleian website is a free resource for everyone that covers everything from beautifully illuminated manuscripts from medieval Europe and centuries-old maps to Victorian board games and British political election posters from the last 100 years. Over the past six years it has grown and grown, offering a wide range of access to the Bodleian’s stunning collections.

The one millionth image to be digitized is from an original notebook of poet Jenny Joseph, who studied at St Hilda’s College and maintained a connection with Oxford all her life. It shows the first draft of her poem, 'Warning', which was voted the ‘nation’s favourite poem’ in a BBC poll in 2006. To commemorate this milestone, the libraries have commissioned Oxford gradute Róisín McCallion, do a reading of the poem set to images from Digital Bodleian.

Digital Bodleian first launched in 2015 with the aim of bringing together digitized content from the Bodleian Libraries’ extraordinary and rich collections into a single portal. The Bodleian Libraries have been pioneers in the arena of digital preservation and have been digitizing content since the early 1990s, and were the first library outside the US to partner with Google as part of their mass-digitization programme. Digital Bodleian was, and is, designed to enable access to that content for the widest possible audience.

During the past 18 months, people have flocked to Digital Bodleian to explore and learn more about the rich tapestry of items in our collection, most of these are free to download and use by members of the public.

Digital Bodleian’s top ten of the past year are:

  1. Romance of Alexander etc. from the 14th century, MS. Bodl. 264
  2. The Ashmole Bestiary from the 13th century, MS. Ashmole 1511
  3. Divine Comedy, MS. Holkham misc. 48
  4. Book of Wonders, MS. Bodl. Or. 133
  5. Bestiary, MS. Bodl. 764
  6. The Caedmon Manuscript, MS. Junius 11
  7. Notes on the geography and administration of the Roman Empire, MS. Canon. Misc. 378
  8. Georgian liturgical manuscript written by the founder of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, MS. Georg. b. 1
  9. Codex Mendoza, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1
  10. Kennicott Bible, MS. Kennicott 1

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian at the Bodleian Libraries, said:

Whether you are a student, a researcher or someone who has a personal passion we are delighted to be able to make our collections, built up over the last 400 years, for all to be able to view, download and use. We invite everyone to explore the diversity, interest and sheer beauty of these manuscripts, books, archives, photographs and paintings. Many of the collections we have digitized were gifted to the Bodleian, and the costs have often come from generous donors and funding bodies who share our desire to make these materials widely available.