Over a thousand medieval manuscripts to be digitized in Poland


Wroclaw University Library in Poland is teaming up with IBM to digitize nearly 800,000 pages of European manuscripts, books, and maps dating back to the Middle Ages. This will include over 1100 medieval manuscripts.

Shown here is "The Great Missal", from the Church of Mary Magdalene in Wroclaw, circa 1470, part of the Wroclaw University Library archives being digitized and made available online for the first time with IBM technology.  Photo courtesy of Wroclaw University Library, Poland

The Great Missal, from the Church of Mary Magdalene in Wroclaw, circa 1470, part of the Wroclaw University Library archives being digitized and made available online for the first time with IBM technology.

The project, co-founded by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund, will create the largest digital archive of medieval manuscripts and ancient geographical atlases in Poland.

“The Wroclaw University Library’s mission is to protect, preserve and ensure broader access to Polish cultural heritage,” said Adam Zurek, Head of the Department of Scientific Documentation of Cultural Heritage, Wroclaw University Library. “We selected IBM to help us identify, choose and implement a solution in line with our goals of digitizing the library’s documents and making them available to the broader public online. Thanks to the IBM Smarter Computing solution, our library has enhanced its potential as an educational resource for students and researchers from Europe and all over the world.”




The Wroclaw University Library, founded in 1811, houses unique documents such as medieval manuscripts and old prints. One of its most valuable treasures is the “Statuta synodalia episcoporum Wratislaviensium,” containing the texts of everyday prayers printed for the first time in Polish by Kasper Elyan in 1475.

Other precious cultural texts include “Legenda major de Beata Hedwigi,” published by Konrad Baumgarten in 1504, and early publications of Martin Luther, Miguel de Cervantes, and William Shakespeare. The archive also includes thousands of old printed maps, including the handwritten “Portolan Atlas” by sixteenth-century cartographer Battista Agnese.

Shown here is the "Portolan Atlas," a hand-drawn sailing map printed in Venice by famed cartographer Batissta Agnesy in 1540, part of the archives at the Wroclaw University Library. A solution consisting of IBM System x servers and Storage disk and SAN solutions to address the big data challenge of managing and providing fast search and retrieval services for up to 300 terabytes of information.  Photo courtesy of Wroclaw University Library, Poland

Portolan Atlas, drawn in 1540

Until now, these documents were accessible to only a handful number of students and scientists. Through this digitization project, the Wroclaw University Library can now provide access to this material to anyone via Internet.

“Preserving our ancient cultural documents is a major project which opens our Polish cultural heritage to the world,” says Grzegorz Dobranowski, Business Partner Organization Director, IBM Poland. “Thanks to IBM’s Smarter Computing approach to IT, it will be now easier for the library to collect, manage and catalog content, ensuring Europe and the world benefit from Poland’s great cultural heritage.”

During the implementation, 1,100 medieval manuscripts were digitized together with old prints, maps and music. Over 140 documents underwent conservation and a 360-page album is about to be published.

Click here to go to the Wroclaw University Library website

Rare Medieval Texts at Wroclaw University Library

Rare Medieval Texts at Wroclaw University Library