COLLEGEVILLE - The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library at Saint John's University has been awarded a three-year $500,000 grant to support development of an online reading room.

The virtual room will allow users to browse over 25,000 digitized manuscripts from libraries in the Middle East, South India and Africa.

The manuscripts represent traditional cultures now endanged by war, modernization and globalization.

The online reading room is expected to be the largest and most comprehensive online collection on manuscripts ever created.

The grant is from the Henry Luce Foundation. The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library's mission is to identify, digitally photograph, catalog and archive endangered manuscripts from around the world.