Thursday, April 9, 2009

NYPL Digital Gallery: William Blake

The last blog entry I did was on the William Blake collection maintained by the Carolina Digital Library and Archives. This week I chose the Blake Digital Gallery maintained by the New York Public Library. This collection is comprised of three books written and designed by Blake. The books were done with “relief etching” and feature images in both color and black and white. There isn’t much discussion of why these items have been digitized over others but they seem to imply that these are the only works of this type by Blake in their collection. It seems, although it’s not completely clear, that the library simply digitized all of their Blake holdings.

The library provides a brief history of the collection as well as some background information on Blake and his work. I find this collection much easier to browse than Carolina's but there is much less content. Users are given the option to view one book at a time or simply browse thumbnails of all of the 91 images. Viewing the images can be a little awkward. There's no easy way to read the text of the books and they do not provide a transcription. However, viewers are given two ways to zoom in on the images. You have the option to “resize” the image which makes it about twice as large or you can zoom in which opens the image in a new window. This second option only allows viewers to see small sections of the image at a time.

The metadata is not immediately viewable but can be accessed by clicking the Image Details link. The collection provides the image title, author, medium, specific material type, physical description, item/page/plate, source, source description, location, collection call number, digital ID, record ID, date of publication for digital item and the date of the update.

Overall, I think this is a nice, well-maintained collection. I also appreciate the fact that you can save individual images to your computer even though they sell prints of them images. Zooming in on images is a little awkward but the quality of the images is really nice. Again, a transcription of the text would be a nice feature but I think the library assumes the images are the focus of this collection which is perhaps why they leave the text out.

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