Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Open Access

Article here about the Vatican Library, and the charges that it does not allow researchers full access to its holdings. The suspicions relate to Vatican documents, and not to Hebrew manuscripts held in the Vatican library.

I just learned from here that Malachi Beit-Arie has finished a major project:
He has just completed his definitive work, summing up 40 years of research - Historical and Comparative Typology of Hebrew Medieval Codices based on the Documentation of the Extant Dated Manuscripts in Quantitative Approach. The book will first be accessible on the internet attached to SfarData, the on-line database of dated Hebrew manuscripts which is currently under construction.


Anonymous Lia said...

Any chance you could explain a little more what the work does?

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Jesús said...

I’ve just seen that Maria Luisa Agati quotes SfarData as already on line. I have no actual news about that – and SfarData keeps being off line on the JNUL website or elsewhere – so I guess it’s a rather preemptive yet ungrounded scoop.

About the article, I’d be happy with some more accurate reporting and less of Simonsohn’s fussy professorial attitude.
There are 803 mss. in the Vatican Library rather than “thousands of Hebrew-language manuscripts”. And they’re Hebrew-script rather than Hebrew-language mss. No secrets on the Archivio Segreto Vaticano: extant Inquisitorial files are kept there, not at the Vatican Library (so no room for a conspiratorial style along the lines of “‘Open to the public’ is a relative term in regard to a library that possesses, among other items, the investigative reports compiled on the Inquisition”). The managers, location and staff of both institutions are different. And in my humble experience, you almost always need some ID or letter of introduction to “read” mss. May I add “and so must it be”? A more substantial debate might be whether digitization should keep most reading requests off the actual reading room but I guess it’s an issue that mostly interests codicologists rather than other academic species.

PS: Great blog!

3:08 PM  

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