Sunday, August 20, 2006

Turning the Pages

Leaf through 15 great books online and magnify the details. Yes, that's correct. You can actually turn the pages of these books ... well, virtually, that is. Turning the Pages is the award-winning interactive program that allows museums and libraries to give members of the public access to precious books while keeping the originals safely under glass.

A high-speed internet connection will give you the most features but for viewers with a dial-up connection, there is a narrowband version and versions that don’t require turning, that display images of pages (and enlargements) in standard web pages. To enhance the viewing experience, there are text and audio buttons, in addition to the magnifier. Extra buttons appear if there are additional things to see or hear. Some features are specific to individual manuscripts. In Leonardo's Notebook, for example, a button turns the text round (when using the magnifier) so visitors can read his famous 'mirror' handwriting. There are complete readings of Alice's Adventures under Ground and Jane Austen's The History of England, and audio descriptions of each page of the other books.

The trick to turning pages successfully is to move your cursor off the book once the page starts lifting but continue moving your cursor in the direction you want the page to go. Once the page starts falling onto the other side you can stop.

SKETCHES BY LEONARDO: The genius's personal notebook
MOZART'S MUSICAL DIARY: With 75 audio excerpts
THE ORIGINAL ALICE: Written and illustrated by Lewis Carroll
MASTERPIECE OF THE RENAISSANCE: Beautiful images from the Sforza Hours
JANE AUSTEN'S EARLY WORK: The History of England in her own hand
FIRST ATLAS OF EUROPE: Compiled by Mercator in the 1570s
OUTSTANDING 15TH-CENTURY CHURCH BOOK: The wonderful, and weighty, Sherborne Missal
CLASSIC OF BOTANICAL ILLUSTRATION: Elizabeth Blackwell's remarkable Herbal
BAYBARS' MAGNIFICENT QUR'AN: Epitome of sumptuous Arabic calligraphy
PINNACLE OF ANGLO-SAXON ART: The priceless Lindisfarne Gospels
THE OLDEST PRINTED 'BOOK': The Diamond Sutra, printed in China in 868
GLIMPSES OF MEDIEVAL LIFE: Selections from the famous Luttrell Psalter
FLEMISH MASTERS IN MINIATURE: The superb so-called 'Golf Book'
GLORIOUS HEBREW PRAYER BOOK: The lavishly illustrated Golden Haggadah
A LANDMARK IN MEDICAL HISTORY: Vesalius's stunning 16th century anatomy

In addition to the turning pages books, the British Library contains many millions of books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, patents, music scores, sound recordings, photographs and stamps. You can read a brief description of an item, view an enlarged image and either find out more or move on to another treasure.

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