Turning the pages

The British Library has not only been scanning in precious, rare books but also embarking on a project called Turning the Pages. Although I love tech and gadgets I’ve never liked reading E-books – I much prefer the act of leafing through a real book. This project is digitizing precious old books in the British Library’s collection but has also been designed to be read as much like a real book as possible – you click and drag and flip over the pages in a quite satisfying manner. Not exactly the same as reading a real book but as close as most of us will get to touching such rarities.

Only a few researchers will ever get to touch these delicate literary treasures, but thanks to these digitzed versions being made available online anyone can now have a look, ‘leafing’ through the pages. It helps protect and store important but fragile works and yet allow us all access to them – brilliant idea. One of the ones now available is the original manuscript for one of my favourite books, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, written and illustrated in his own hand and there are a number of other works available, including one of the first atlases of Europe by the great Mercator. If you like books then do yourself a favour and go and enjoy a good read. It’s not quite the Alexandria Library in cyberspace yet, but it is a start – and hopefully more fire-resistant than the original Alexandria (now that would have been a sight to see, wouldn’t it?).