ProQuest has just added titles from the National Library of the Netherlands and the National Central Library of Florence to their Early European Books digitized file, bringing the number of digitized rare early modern texts to 6,500 ‚ for now. They’re planning to expand the file much more throughout 2011 and 2012, with the digitization of medical and scientific books underway at the Wellcome Library in London. ProQuest’s aim in creating and expanding this file Is to build a comprehensive library of European printed books from the birth of printing in the 1450s to the year 1700, and thereby open up new connections between national heritage collections and allow for new kinds of scholarly overviews of the period.
Titles being added from the National Central Library of Florence include Italian literary and religious texts and early editions of the Classics, as well as important examples of printing from the German-speaking towns that pioneered printing in the 15th century. These include Johannes Angelus’s astrological work Astrolabium (Augsburg, 1488) and the first Latin translation of Sebastian Brant’s allegory, The Ship of Fools (Stultifera navis, Strasbourg, 1497), along with Classical texts of Aesop, Ovid, and Virgil and the works of the 9th-century Persian scholar Albumasar and the Spanish-born Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. Texts from the Netherlands include historical primary source documents from the Dutch Revolt against Spanish rule, such as French pamphlets issued by William I, Prince of Orange, and Marnix van St. Aldegonde’s nationalist treatise Vraye narration et Apologie des chose passes au Pays-Bas (1567). All the volumes here have been digitized in high-resolution color, including all pages, endpapers, fold-outs and bindings, to give as detailed a view of the source document as possible.
I’m working on getting a brief free trial to this one ASAP, so stay tuned for more as it happens,