Press release

Jisc and Wellcome Library partnership to create comprehensive online resource for the history of medicine

The Wellcome Library and Jisc have strengthened their successful working relationship by signing a new three-year agreement that will enable the digitisation of more than 10 million pages of 19th-century works. The publications selected focus on medicine and related disciplines, and have been drawn from university and other research libraries from across the UK.

The Wellcome Library is one of the world's major resources for the study of medical history, and provides access to a growing collection of resources relating to contemporary medicine and biomedical science in society.

The Wellcome Library is digitising its 19th-century collections; Jisc will support the digitisation of complementary collections housed within universities to create a comprehensive online resource for the history of medicine and related sciences. The Wellcome Library will also provide support to allow non-university research libraries to participate in the project. Open access to all of the content will be provided across multiple platforms, including the Wellcome Library's website, the Internet Archive and through Jisc.

By collaborating on the creation, dissemination and aggregation of digital content, the charities will streamline the provision of digitised historical medical content by deploying common standards, infrastructure and best practices.

The project will significantly increase the availability of digitised text for teaching, learning and research. It is being undertaken in partnership with a number of higher education and specialist libraries, and has been co-designed with Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and informed by an Academic Advisory Group.

Simon Chaplin, Head of the Wellcome Library, said: "We are building on the success of the US-based Medical Heritage Library, which already has over 50 000 digitised books online - our project will add significantly to this. For the Wellcome Library, this forms part of a bigger project that will digitise over 50 million pages of historic medical books, archives, manuscripts and journals by 2020."

Stella Butler, Chair of RLUK and Chair of the Academic Advisory Group for the project, said: "RLUK is delighted to be working with Jisc and the Wellcome Library on this important project, which will make a step change to the availability of research resources for humanities scholars, enabling important projects in areas such as medical history, ethics and the social sciences."

Lorraine Estelle, Executive Director, Content and Discovery and Divisional CEO at Jisc Collections, said: "By working with the Wellcome Library and the Internet Archive to aggregate dispersed medical collections of books and pamphlets, we are building the UK's research capability in the most sustainable way. High-quality digitisation allows text to be liberated from its page, and the resulting data enables new forms of research inquiry. The project also meets the increasing demand, from our customers, that traditional content should be made digital for use and reuse."