Launched in 2015, the Digital Bodleian website is a free resource providing unfettered access to a vast array of items housed in the institution’s wide-ranging collections.

The digital archive of images has steadily grown throughout the six years since its launch, with an original notebook belonging to poet Jenny Joseph, a former student at St Hilda’s College, now having become the one millionth item digitised and made available for public access.

Art Fund – Going Places – Oct 2023
The millionth digitised artefact shared is Jenny Joseph's Poetry notebooks, 1949-2008

“Whether you are a student, a researcher or someone who has a personal passion, we are delighted to be able to make our collections, built up over the last 400 years, for all to be able to view, download and use,” says Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian at the Bodleian Libraries.

“We invite everyone to explore the diversity, interest and sheer beauty of these manuscripts, books, archives, photographs and paintings. Many of the collections we have digitised were gifted to the Bodleian, and the costs have often come from generous donors and funding bodies who share our desire to make these materials widely available.”

Having blazed a trail by digitising content as far back as the early 1990s, the Bodleian Libraries was the first library outside the USA to partner with Google as part of their ongoing mass-digitisation programme.

Pandemic perusals

With the Bodleian Libraries encountering the same upturn in online visitors during lockdowns as the sector at large, Digital Bodleian’s top ten most viewed items of the past year are:

  1. Romance of Alexander etc. from the 14th century, MS. Bodl. 264
  2. The Ashmole Bestiary from the 13th century, MS. Ashmole 1511
  3. Divine Comedy, MS. Holkham misc. 48
  4. Book of Wonders, MS. Bodl. Or. 133
  5. Bestiary, MS. Bodl. 764
  6. The Caedmon Manuscript, MS. Junius 11
  7. Notes on the geography and administration of the Roman Empire, MS. Canon. Misc. 378
  8. Georgian liturgical manuscript written by the founder of the Monastery of the Holy Cross, MS. Georg. b. 1
  9. Codex Mendoza, MS. Arch. Selden. A. 1
  10. Kennicott Bible, MS. Kennicott 1

To commemorate the millionth digitised image’s addition to the portal, Oxford graduate Róisín McCallion has been commissioned to perform a reading of Jenny Joseph’s poetry set to images from the Digital Bodleian’s online archive.

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