Medieval Monastic Library of Lorsch recreated online

From left to right: Hessian Minister of Science Eva Kühne-Hörmann, Prof. Dr. Thomas Rausch, Vice Rector for Research and Structure of Ruperto Carola, Dr. Veit Probst, Director of Heidelberg University Library, Karl Weber, Director of the Administration of State Houses and Gardens in Hesse, and Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science of Baden-Württemberg – photo courtesy Heidelberg University

The unique holdings of the medieval monastic library of Lorsch, currently scattered over 68 libraries worldwide, are being re-compiled into a virtual library. Heidelberg University Library and local government officials in Germany have been working since March of 2010 to publish the 330 surviving Lorsch manuscripts and manuscript fragments online. The project by the name of “Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital” is being funded by the State of Hesse with 450.000 euros and will continue through 2013.

“The virtual reconstruction of the former library of Lorsch Abbey, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, gives us the chance to study the abbey’s intellectual foundation, and the Carolingian world view in general, in depth for the first time”, said Eva Kühne-Hörmann, the Hessian Minister of Higher Education, Research and the Arts, during the presentation of the project. “This outstanding endeavour, which is of great interest to the State of Hesse, has united experts from Hesse and Baden-Württemberg in an exemplary, cross-border cooperative effort that reflects the historic significance and geographical location of the monastic library of Lorsch between the palatinate and the diocese of Mainz.”

The Bibliotheca Laureshamensis – digital project will see the digitisation of the abbey’s codices. In addition, scientific descriptions detailing the origin, owners, appearance, handwriting and content of the library’s manuscripts will be compiled in a project database. For the first time, researchers will have comprehensive and systematic access to the Lorsch manuscripts, a fact that opens up entirely new possibilities of research. “This is the first time that a digitisation project for the virtual reconstruction of a medieval library is compiling manuscripts that have been scattered so widely throughout the world. The project’s international character makes it a pioneering achievement in the field of manuscript digitisation“, added Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts for the state of Baden-Württemberg.

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