APIS is a "virtual library," created and maintained by the University of Michigan and other universities to provide online access to papyrological collections. Users are able to view digital images and detailed catalog records containing information on papyrus characteristics, corrections to published papyri, and republications.
Between 1991 and 1995, developments in digital image capturing and the growth of the Internet attracted the attention of papyrologists. The Michigan Papyrus Collection led the way in establishing the digitization project hoping that other universities would follow suit in making their collections available on the World Wide Web through digital images and catalog records.
Through a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Duke University successfully completed an electronic archive of their papyrus collection. Work on the Duke papyrus collection was conducted from 1992-94 by a full-time specialist and a full-time cataloger who also scanned in images of the papyri. Color images and corresponding catalog records, in US-MARC AMC format, of almost the entire collection are now available for viewing and for research.
By 1993, it became clear that more collections would undertake projects similar to those underway at Michigan and Duke. The intervention of the American Society of Papyrologists came at a convenient time. With the initiative of its president (Professor Roger Bagnall, Columbia University), the Society created a technology committee to oversee and coordinate such projects, as well as to set methodology and standards for image capture and cataloging. This was the birth of the Advanced Papyrological Information System. Princeton University, the University of California at Berkeley, and Yale University had joined the original consortium of Columbia, Duke and Michigan by the end of 1994.