British Library making rare books virtually available online

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The British Library has started a monumental project: to put a number of the rare books stored in its archives online, so that anyone can virtually thumb through them from the comfort of their home, and without the worry that they’ll get grubby finger smudges or jam on the delicate, highly valuable pages.

So far, around twenty books have been added to the Turning the Pages project, including rare religious texts, Jane Austen’s early work, the first atlas of Europe, Diamond Sutra, printed in China in 868, Lewis Carroll’s original “Alice in Wonderland”, sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, and Mozart’s musical diary.

The standard software runs on any computer with the Shockwave plugin, while an enhanced version runs only on Windows Vista or XP, or other systems using Microsoft’s Silverlight software.

Other books, specifically those felt to be of great value to the public, will be converted in time.

Turning the Pages (via ZDNet)

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Andy Merrett