Media Releases

Internet archive reaches 3 million items with rare Galileo texts from the U of T libraries

September 29, 2011

TORONTO, ON – Galileo’s Dialogo de Cecco di Ronchitti … de la Stella Nuova and Considerazioni … spora Alcuni Luoghi de Discorso di Lodovico delle Colombe – two pamphlets from a volume of fifteen treatises on comets published from 1575 to 1606, together represent the 3 millionth text to be digitized and made freely available for download by the Internet Archive.

The volume was provided to the Archive for digitization by the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Canada’s largest rare book library and part of the extensive University of Toronto Libraries system which has collectively contributed over 300,000 books from its collections to the Internet Archive.

Richard Landon, until recently the Director of the Fisher Library, described the importance of Galileo’s Dialogo in Bibliophilia Scholastica Floreat: Fifty Years of Rare Books and Special Collections at the University of Toronto:

Galileo, a major progenitor of the Scientific Revolution was also a martyr of the new science. His career can be viewed as a series of controversies, beginning with his earliest published work on the ‘new star’ of 1604, written when he was already 40. He then moved on to the proportional compass, the telescopic discoveries of 1610, the ‘bodies in water’ and sunspot controversies of 1612 to 1615, the controversy of the comets (1619-20), and the most famous of all, the Dialogo of 1632 which led to his trial and house arrest until his death in 1642. … Each of his works provoked attacks by Aristotelian philosophers and theological opponents and, occasionally, he was defended in print by his scientific colleagues. With the exceptions of the 1632 Dialogo and the Discorsi all these works were small pamphlets published in limited numbers and all are rare, both in institutions and on the market.

The Library’s Galileo collection, started with a private collection donated by Stilman Drake in 1967 and built by the library over time, is now among the best in the world and is representative of the unique holdings that attract thousands of scholars, students and visitors from around the world to the Fisher Library each year to research, study and attend lectures and exhibitions.

The Internet Archive has digitized approximately two million books from 1,000 libraries in 200 languages since 2005. Others have uploaded another one million texts including 37,000 books from Project Gutenberg. Twenty-seven Internet Archive scanning centres in six countries, including the Canadian headquarters at Robarts Library at the University of Toronto, add more than 1,000 books to the public archive through their digitization efforts each day. enjoys a readership of 10 million monthly, with 1 million unique visitors each day. All of its public domain books are full text searchable, indexed by multiple search engines, and downloadable individually or in bulk. Anyone can help build this library of free books by scanning and uploading, by donating physical books to the Internet Archive, or by sponsoring the digitization of great collections.


For more information, please contact:

Anne Dondertman
Acting Director
Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Gabe Juszel
Canadian Regional Scanning Coordinator
Internet Archive Canada