The EPFL Library's collection of precious books consists of some 600 books (more than 900 volumes), dating from the 15th to the 19th century. This valuable collection has been compiled to illustrate the areas of the history and philosophy of science, and more particularly the scientific work of Swiss authors. It particularly highlights, through its humanist perspective, the relationship between man and scientific progress. All the documents in this collection are referenced in BEAST, the catalogue of the EPFL Library.
The precious collection of the EPFL Library shines through three major qualities:
- Plurilingualism: in addition to Latin books, the precious collection also includes many books published in French, German, Italian or English.
- Scientific palette: the various sciences and techniques are all represented in the old collection of EPFL and most of the time by the best authors. Swiss scientists also play their part, from Jean-Pierre de Crousaz to Simon Lhuilier and Loys de Chesaux to Develey, as well as the great mathematicians Daniel and Johann Bernoulli.
- Iconographic richness: EPFL's collection is particularly rich in natural history books, architecture and urban planning, military art and fortification, land and maritime engineering, including many superb boards (often folding) that are often in excellent condition.
Although this precious collection is relatively small in size, it has an undeniable interest. The main objective of the EPFL Library is to qualitatively complete the digital heritage already accessible online and to justify the interest of digitization, the selection of documents to be digitized is based on three main criteria:
- there is no accessible digitization of the work in question;
- a digitization exists, but its quality is not optimal (missing image, truncated text, etc.);
- a digitization exists, but the texts contained have not been transcribed by OCR or, if they have been, the processing quality is not satisfactory (shift of the OCR layer with respect to the image).
PLUME is intended to be enriched over time and to welcome new digitized works.