Monday, September 23, 2013

Catching up with the ÖNB

As I've spent the last several years scouring bibliographies of early printing and digitalization projects for facsimiles of one kind or another, I wondered several times why there was not much available from the Austrian National Library in Vienna. There seemed to be some subject-specific projects - Bibles, for example - but nothing of any scale, and nothing that I needed. I started mentally filing away works with a unique copy in Vienna as things that I would have to order individually, or never see.

No long ago, however, I started seeing fifteenth and sixteenth-century digital editions turning up on Google Books with an ÖNB ex libris. Interesting, I thought. They must be starting to digitize their early printed books.

So recently I thought I should check to see what was available from Vienna. To my pleasant surprise, I found a new (to me) search engine that made finding digital editions from the fifteenth or sixteenth centuries (or any other time period) very easy. How many editions had been digitized already?

20,565. That's twenty-thousand, five hundred and sixty-five. And counting.

So now I'll need to take some time to see if there's anything available that I'm interested in. A few trial searches each turned up digital facsimiles of things I hadn't seen before, like the 1551 Gulfferich edition of Lichtenberger's Prognosticatio. I'll have to start searching systematically.

I usually try to catch up with a digitalization project and then follow the RSS feed to follow new editions as they come in. There is an RSS button on the page, but it doesn't see to provide a feed that Thunderbird can understand.

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