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

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26 March 2014

Genetics books held within the Wellcome Library

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."

Image: Genetics books held within the Wellcome Library. Credit: Wellcome Images


Elizabeth Somerville
Media Relations Manager
T +44 (0)20 3697 5806
Note to editors
About Jisc
Jisc offers digital services and solutions for UK education and research. The charity does this to achieve its vision for the UK to be the most digitally advanced education and research nation in the world.
Working together across the higher education, further education and skills sectors, Jisc provides trusted advice and support, reduces sector costs across shared networks, digital content, IT services and procurement negotiations, ensuring the sector stays ahead of the game with research and development for the future. 
About the Wellcome Library
The Wellcome Library is one of the world's leading medical history libraries, housing 2.5 million items of extraordinary range and diversity, and a growing collection of contemporary biomedical information resources relating to consumer health, popular science, biomedical ethics and the public understanding of science. The Library is situated within Wellcome Collection, the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, Wellcome Collection explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. Wellcome Collection is growing. Exciting new galleries and spaces and expanded Library facilities will open in autumn 2014 as part of a £17.5m development.
The Wellcome Library is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.

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