During the past decade, the massive worldwide conversion of learning content from print and other older media on to digital networks has created gatekeepers who limit access to their digital content or require online users to pay for it.
A variety of gatekeepers have made a third choice:
November 2 , 2006
British Library Online Gallery
The Online Gallery at the website of the British Library is a stunningly rich portal into the literary past and the digital future. Shown above is the image of Mozart's Musical Diary, which is one of 15 great books that an online visitor can leaf through page by page, magnifying the details. Other treasures in Turning The Pages are "The Pinnacle of a Anglo-Saxon Art: The Lindisfarne Gospels," the "First Atlas of Europe compiled by Mercator in the 1570s," and "A Landmark in Medical History: Vesalius's 16th century anatomy."
In addition, there are featured items including Mozart's Musical Diary, Lewis Carroll's original Alice, and sketches by Leonardo. A Highlights Tour of 15 treasure includes Shakespeare's First Folio, shown in the illustration below. Still further, there are numerous articles by library experts on a variety of subject.
These virtual looks at great literary achievements of the past are exhibited with generous application of digital tools for viewing and analyzing the treasures. The illustration below is an entry page to a side-by-side comparison tool for two copies of Shakespeare's Hamlet.
The materials available at the British Library Online Gallery are open educational resources of superior rank. As scholarship and study continue to move on to the Internet in a variety of ways, the mandate seems strong for stewards of national and world treasures to showcase them for global study. A large number of materials in the British Library are appropiate to place in the global iCommons—the freedom ideas may be said to demand that they be placed there.
The British Library Online Gallery is an outstanding model for other libraries as well as a wonderful place to visit to learn and to relish the richness of literature and the arts.