Turning the Pages online

A Guardian Books article points to yet another online archive to get lost in [*ahem* – Ed]. The British Library have announced the shortlists for their Hidden Treasures Brought to Life, a competition for UK public libraries for books which are too valuable or fragile for public display. “Four winning libraries – one each in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – will have their nominated treasures digitised, converted into Turning the Pages 2.0 ‘virtual texts’ and hosted online by the British Library for three years.” It’s sponsored by Microsoft which helps explain the presence, in addition to the Library’s own Codex Arundel, of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Codex Leicester in the archive – and not other recently displayed Da Vinci notebooks. But there are existing Turning the Pages text already available online, including one which almost made my 12 books which changed the world list, De Humanis Corporis Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius. And there’s Mercator’s Atlas of Europe from the 1570s (pictured).

Another image from the Mercator Atlas below

Also online in the British Library’s Turning the Pages archive is the earliest, dated, printed book, the Diamond Sutra – printed in 868AD. Found in 1900 with 30,000 other scrolls when a cave which had been sealed in 1000AD was uncovered during restoration work on a monastry in Dunhuang Chinese Central Asia.

As is the Lindisfarne Bible

Anyway, the Northern Ireland short list is as follows.. one of these will be assimilated digitised.

Northern Ireland

An Hibernian Atlas, 1798 (Armagh Library) [Armagh Public Library? – Ed]

Le Grand Atlas, Joan Blaeu, 1667 (Belfast City Library) [selected pages here]

Maps of the Roads of Ireland, 1777 (Ballynahinch, County Down)

Sir George Leonard Staunton’s Account of an Embassy from the King of Great Britain to the Emperor of China, 1797 (Belfast City Library) [more on George Leonard Staunton here]

The Marcus Ward collection (Belfast City Library) [some images from the Marcus Ward collection are already online]

  • Dewi

    All fascinating Pete. Mercator astonishing for such an early atlas – real detail. Didn’t I read somehwere that Google have got thousands of people working full time digitising everything ?

  • Pete Baker

    Not usre about the “thousands of people”, Dewi, but the Google Project is a much more general project than this one by the British Library.

    Google Books Library Project

  • Dewi

    At the moment there is a fascinating exhibition in the British Libary of the first printed books of Islam, Judaism and Christianity – well worth a visit if u are by King’s Cross.