10 More Interesting Digital Library Collections

Google Books Library Project — It would be impossible to talk about digital library collections without mentioning Google — one of the most impressive and most-discussed of all of the digital book scanning projects. The stuff from Oxford’s Bodleian Library is a must-see for Isaac Newton’s Mathematical principles of natural philosophy from 1729, the first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma. I’m a fan of the Inside Google Books blog — especially when spotlighting things such as Nietzsche’s mustache.

Columbia University Digital Collections — The Digital Collection is a mix of things. The Digital Scriptorium is neat, in an esoteric kind of way. The best stuff by far are the online exhibitions from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library — “Shakespeare and the Book” (which includes the rarest of the rare, Shakespeare’s First Folio) and “Our Tools of Learning

The British Library Online Gallery — Arguably one of the best digital collections in the world. The Shakespeare collection is second to none. The Leonardo da Vinci notebooks and sketches are amazing; and the original, handwritten and hand-illustrated manuscript of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of the library’s most beloved treasures.

Rare Book Room — Another one of my favorites, culling together rare scanned books from everywhere. Galileo. Benjamin Franklin. The Bill of Rights, lots and lots of Shakespeare, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Areopagtica.

Oxford Digital Library — It probably goes without saying, but there’s a lot of stuff here. If I had to pick a favorite, it’d probably be the First World War Poetry Digital Archive.

Princeton University Library Digital Collections — Check out the DeBussy, Handel, and this remarkable Aristotle artifact.

New York Public Library — I wish more of their stuff was online. Which isn’t to say there isn’t neat stuff to see. The Walt Whitman manuscripts and William Blake books are excellent.

Smithsonian Digital Library — All manner of things here. The online exhibitions are the most interesting things. A neat Jules Verne online collection. Also worth a look: “Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration,” and “Science and The Artist’s Book

Duke University Libraries Digital Collections — A great collection of Walt Whitmaniana (the “Leaves of Grass” manuscript is a must-see). And an impressive digital archive of ancient papyrus.

Digital Collections@Stanford — Couple of neat items in The American Enlightenment collection (some neat items ranging from Thomas Paine, Edward Gibbon, and others).


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I run the ThinkLab at the University of Cambridge, and research digital habits, productivity, and wellbeing.

tyler shores cambridge

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