Published on December 1, 2020 Updated on January 19, 2021

Biblissima is an exceptional online library that coordinates and structures an extensive collection of digital corpora and scientific data on the history of texts and their circulation in the Western world from medieval times to the end of the Ancien Régime.

A RESOURCE FOR THE FUTURE

Biblissima – Bibliotheca bibliothecarum novissima – is supported by Campus Condorcet and supervised by Anne-Marie Turcan-Verkerk, Director of studies at the EPHE. It was one of the 36 exceptional resources selected by an international panel at the end of 2011.

In its role as an observatory for written cultural heritage from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, Biblissima focuses on written documents in the major languages of medieval and renaissance Europe (Arabic, French, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Syriac, etc.). This unique portal contributes to a better understanding of the circulation of texts, the destiny of ancient libraries and the transmission of knowledge in Europe from the 8th to the 18th century, by providing simple and coordinated access to a vast collection of documentation on manuscripts and early printed books, their keepers and their successive readers.

In addition to serving the research community, Biblissima also seeks to make knowledge on written heritage available to the widest possible audience.

AN EXPERIMENTAL LABORATORY

Biblissima, which was designed as an experimental laboratory, is one of the building blocks of the Campus Condorcet’s digital and scientific programme.

A “library of libraries”, the Biblissima portal is a unique point of reference, a gateway to the written heritage of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in the Western hemisphere. Through a user-friendly web interface, it offers unified access to a series of digital datasets on ancient collections of manuscripts, incunabula and early printed materials, contributed by partner teams. In particular, users can peruse:

  • documents from Gallica (BnF), from the Bibliothèque Virtuelle des Manuscrits Médiévaux (IRHT-CNRS) and from many other libraries around the world
  • a variety of catalogues and specialised databases (origins, iconography, texts, bindings, etc.),
  • and, in the future, digital editions of early texts (inventories of ancient libraries, the Glossa Ordinaria on the Bible, sermons).

The initial phases of data processing and integration into the portal focused on the history of ancient collections of manuscripts and printed documents and on iconography. The portal is gradually being expanded with rich, new datasets, which are processed and integrated in stages.

The project produces ergonomically-designed, generic digital publishing tools to meet various needs (critical editions, cataloguing, etc.). These tools will be included in the BaOBab toolkit, which already offers translation assistance software from Latin and Greek, as well as a description module for ancient bindings. BaOBab will provide access to hundreds of online tools, which will assist in the production, collection and utilisation of data for all audiences.

 

Partners

Biblissima Equipex, which is supported by Campus Condorcet, is the rallying point for ten partner teams throughout France, some of whom are connected to the Campus' founding members:

  • Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF), Department of manuscripts and Reserve of rare books. Manager: Charlotte Denoël.
  • Centre d’études supérieures de la Renaissance (CESR), Université de Tours / CNRS. Manager: Chiara Lastraioli
  • Laboratoire Histoire, archéologie, littératures des mondes chrétiens et musulmans médiévaux (CIHAM), Université de Lyon and Université d’Avignon / CNRS / EHESS / ENS Lyon. Manager: Jean-Louis Gaulin.
  • Centre Jean Mabillon (CJM), École nationale des Chartes. Manager: Frédéric Duval.
  • Équipe Savoirs et pratiques du Moyen Âge au XIXe siècle (SAPRAT), École Pratique des Hautes Études. Manager: Judith Schlanger.
  • Institut de recherche et d’histoire des textes (IRHT), CNRS. Manager: François Bougard.
  • Centre Michel de Bouärd (CRAHAM), Université de Caen / CNRS. Manager: Catherine Jacquemard.
  • Digital documents hub MRSH de Caen, Université de Caen / CNRS. Manager: Pierre-Yves Buard.
  • and, since 2017, the French National Archives. Manager: Emmanuel Rousseau.

The Biblissima portal is open to new projects: anyone who would like their data to be accessible on Biblissima is invited to contact Anne-Marie Turcan-Verkerk or Régis Robineau, the portal team manager [administration(at)biblissima-condorcet.fr].