Reconstructing the Sorbonne Library in the Bibale Database: New Paths through Old Matter

By Antoine Brix, PhD [1]

The rise of the digital age has prompted new ideas and new challenges in the humanities. It has generated new aspirations shared by a generation of historians, and among them many are medievalists. The full and comprehensive reconstruction of libraries from the past and dispersed book collections stands out as one of these new aspirations of medievalists in the digital era. Sure enough, there is a rich bibliography to remind one that Gutenberg-era scholars did try their hand at writing the history of long-gone libraries. Yet previously one did not endeavour to describe all aspects of such libraries, from book acquisitions to losses, from bequests to loans, from what texts these books preserved to what material they were made of, from how books were read to how books were referred to, and so forth. In other words, scholars in the print era had no ambition of considering everything, simply because the heterogeneous results of such a multi-faceted inquiry would not fit all at once in a single printed monography; there was no satisfying way of displaying rich and diverse data so that readers would really find their way into it, and benefit from such a reading. Continuer la lecture