Headlines: August 22nd, 2007



Two local authorities – Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the City of London – have each had two historic manuscripts shortlisted in a competition that will see them given new life by being made available online. The competition is being run by the British Library, in collaboration with the Society of Chief Librarians and Microsoft, to make valuable and fragile texts available digitally.

Because of the high number of entries received from across England the organisers have expanded the shortlist to ten, which now includes two manuscripts from the Hart collection at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and two from City of London Libraries.

Four winning books will be digitised as virtual manuscripts and hosted online by the British Library for three years, at a cost of 10,000 pounds each. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the British Library in September. In addition to the Blackburn and London manuscripts and two held in Cathedral libraries at Exeter and Hereford, entries from Bristol, Dorset, Kent and Guernsey are on the shortlist.

Blackburn with Darwen councillor Michael Law-Riding, who is executive member for leisure and culture, welcomed the shortlisting of the Blackburn’ Psalter, which contains 12 pages of illuminations, calendars and the Ars Moriendi, a Dutch edition of the “art of dying” by Peter van Os of Zwolle, dating back to 1491.

“Being able to display the book on a classroom whiteboard would be an ideal way of exploring the idea of sacred texts and what makes them special to a faith community. “It also means that they could be accessed by millions of users from across the globe,” he said.