May 17, 2022

Digitization Projects: "ProQuest Uncovers More Treasures from European Rare Book Libraries"

From ProQuest:

Debuting now are the first installment of digitized books from the National Library of the Netherlands and further content from the National Central Library of Florence. The number of digitized books — now more than 6,500 — will grow rapidly throughout the balance of 2011 and into 2012 as more libraries join the program. Digitization has already begun at the Wellcome Library in London, and works from this renowned collection of medical and scientific books will be added to the database in the fall.


Although the National Central Library of Florence is well known for its excellent holdings of Italian literary and religious texts and early editions of the Classics, this release also includes many important examples of printing from the German-speaking towns that pioneered printing in the 15th century. Books with extensive woodcut illustrations, such as Johannes Angelus’s astrological work Astrolabium (Augsburg, 1488) and the first Latin translation of Sebastian Brant’s well-known allegory The Ship of Fools (Stultifera navis, Strasbourg, 1497) join the works of important early printers such as Anton Koberger of Nürnberg and Peter Drach of Speyer.

The collection from Florence includes works printed throughout Western Europe, from foundational texts of Classical literature (Aesop, Ovid, Virgil) to medieval writers such as the 9th-century Persian scholar Albumasar (Flores astrologiae, Augsburg, 1488) and the Spanish-born Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides, through to the leading Humanist and theological authors of the 15th and 16th centuries. These include Spanish authors such as Juan de Mena (Las trescientas, or The Labyrinth of Fortune, Seville, 1499), Rodrigo Sánchez de Arévalo (Rodericus Zamorensis; Speculum Vitae Humanae, Paris, 1472) and Raymond of Sabunde (Theologia naturalis, Lyon, c.1488), as well as major writers from France (Robert Gaguin), Germany (Heinrich Institoris and Johannes Nider) and Italy (Giovanni Boccaccio, Jacobus de Voragine and Pier Paolo Vergerio, born in modern-day Slovenia).

The texts from the Netherlands give an insight into this crucial period in which the Dutch Republic was formed and grew to be a major world power. There are key historical primary source documents from the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, such as French pamphlets issued by William I, Prince of Orange and Marnix van St. Aldegonde’s nationalist treatise Vraye narration et Apologie des chose passes au Pays-Bas (1567). The age of exploration and colonization is represented by texts such as Joannes de Laet’s History of the New World (Nieuwe wereldt ofte Beschrijvinghe van West-Indien, Leiden, 1625).

See Also: Digitisation by Proquest of early printed books in KB collection  (Jan. 2011; via KB and ProQuest)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.