Librarians are caretakers of some of the world’s greatest treasures—from historical documents and out-of-print books to archival photographs and illustrations. And thanks to the wonders of digitization, many library collections are available for everyone to explore online. Check these out during your next internet deep dive:
The Library of Congress—the largest library in the world and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States—is filled with artifacts and images from the nation’s history. More than two million items from their collection are available online, including American newspapers dating back to 1789 and thousands of musical recordings.
In addition to the 3.5 million New Yorkers served by NYPL, people all across the world can enjoy the library’s digital collections online. They currently offer more than 850,000 digital materials (including manuscripts, maps, and videos) with more added every day. Highlights include turn-of-the-century photos from Ellis Island and the first folio edition of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies.
The national library of the United Kingdom, the British Library has more items cataloged than any other library in the world. Many of those holdings are available to peruse online, including thousand-year-old maps of Great Britain and original copies of the Magna Carta.
Harvard boasts the oldest library in the United States and the largest academic library in the world. Members of the public can discover more than six million items from their collection online—highlights include two original Mozart manuscripts and Chinese stone rubbings dating back to 200 BCE.
The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library has been collecting and preserving cultural artifacts for more than four centuries, and now many of those materials are accessible for free online. Their digital collections include a Gutenberg Bible and pages from an original draft of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
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