British Library to mass-digitize its manuscripts?

Tiny snippets, these, but here I found a report on a conference in February, which included the chance remark:

Will this community thrive? Ronald Milne of the British Library told me he was amazed at how web-active the papyrologist community is. Incidentally, Juan Garcés presented this work excitingly within the context of a recent decision by the British Library to mass-digitise its entire collection of pre-1600 manuscripts.

Meanwhile here is a conference due to happen in July 2009.  Among the papers to be delivered is:

Juan Garcés, Codex Sinaiticus and the mass-digitisation of Greek manuscripts at the British Library.

Hum.  If the British Library is really to digitise all of its manuscripts, that could only be a good thing; indeed a very good thing.  But the devil is in the detail.  I will see if I can find out more about this.  Who is Juan Garces, I wonder?  A search reveals this:

Juan Garcés is Project Manager of the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Projects at the British Library, where he is currently managing both the Codex Sinaiticus Project ( and the Greek Manuscripts Digitisation Project. After studying theology in Giessen and Marburg, Germany, he received a doctorate in Biblical Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, in 2003.

He has since gained experience in the field of Digital Humanities as analyst, consultant, and adviser on digitally-based research projects, particular in the field of Greek texts. Before coming to the British Library, he was employed at the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London, which recently awarded him an MA in Digital Humanities. He is one of the founding members of the Digital Classicist (, the organiser of the Open Source Critical Editions workshop, and co-author of the forthcoming article ‘Open Source Critical Editions: a Rationale’ (in: Text Editing, Print, and the Digital World, eds. Marilyn Deegan and Kathryn Sutherland, Ashgate Press, 2009).

Frankly this sounds pretty good.   A man with a background in Open Source, and digitisation.

My only worry … the BL has a history of creating digital items which it then sells access to, instead of making available to the general public.  It would be a tragedy if such a potentially useful project was prostituted in that way.

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