Harvard’s Digital Library About Books And Reading

April 10, 2010

Harvard University ‘s library materials are disintegrating. That’s true of materials in all the research libraries in the U.S.–and the world, for that matter. But Harvard’s librarians, as one example, have been diligently undertaking a preservation project to digitize these materials before they’re gone altogether. Additionally, they’re making some of these digital libraries accessible by the public for free in their Open Collections Program. One such collection to take note of is the READING Harvard Views Of Readers, Readership and Reading History.

Reading: Harvard Views of Readers, Readership, and Reading History is an online exploration of the intellectual, cultural, and political history of reading as reflected in the historical holdings of the Harvard Libraries. For Internet users worldwide, Reading provides unparalleled digital access to a significant selection of unique source materials:

  • personally annotated books owned by John Keats, Herman Melville, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and others
  • William Wordsworth’s private library catalog
  • commonplace books used by Joseph Conrad, Washington Irving, Victor Hugo, and more
  • records of the Harvard College Library that reveal the reading activities of Emerson, Longfellow, and Thoreau
  • historical textbooks that document the principles, and some of the biases, in reading instruction from the 18th to the early 20th centuries
  • more than 250,000 pages from 1,200 individual items from the Harvard collections, including 800 books and 400 manuscript selections

For researchers, teachers, and students who may not have ready access to extensive historical collections, Reading provides an inspired opportunity to participate more fully in this rapidly expanding research area.

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