While parts of the University Library's manuscript collections have already been published in print, microfilm and digital formats, it is now building a substantial online resource so that its collections can be much more accessible to students, researchers and the wider public.
The first phase of work on the Cambridge Digital Library has been called the Foundations Project, which runs from mid-2010 to mid-2013 and has been made possible through a lead gift of £1.5m from the Polonsky Foundation. This generous support is enabling the Library to develop its technical infrastructure and create significant content in the areas of faith and science - two areas of particular strength within the UL's collections.
The Foundations of Faith Collection will include important works from many religious traditions, particularly Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism. The Library's faith collections include some of the earliest Qur'anic fragments on parchment, the first known Qur'anic commentary written in Persian, an important selection of devotional works and mystical treatises and a collection of theological works including the unique extant copy of the Kitāb al-Tawhīd by al-Māturīdī.
The Foundations of Science Collection will focus on original scientific manuscripts, beginning with the papers of Isaac Newton and his contemporaries and the archive of the Board of Longitude.
The project is developing a sophisticated infrastructure that is capable of supporting a wide range of content. It will go beyond most digital library systems in supporting the production and presentation of formal digital editions as well as digital facsimiles.