Tuesday, April 14, 2009

William Shakespeare - Digital Collection

William Shakespeare - Digital Collection

I am a huge Shakespeare aficionado so I was delighted when I came across Miami University's (in Oxford, Ohio) Digital Collection of the first four folios of Shakespeare's plays. The Shakespeare collection is one of several different digital initiatives that the University has undertaken with the goal of "preserv(ing) and provid(ing) easy access...to support student and faculty research both at Miami University and elsewhere." The Shakespeare Collection clearly fulfills institutions' expectations by providing easy access to a famous work from which careful scrutiny of different editions brings one face-to-face to some of the biggest areas of research in the English field.
Other than establishing the mission of preserving and providing easy access to otherwise fragile and extremely valuable materials, there was really no need for establishing a selection decision regarding the first four folios of the Shakespeare plays. They, however, did make a concious decision to embark upon a digital initiative to scan and process the four Folios, so indirectly, I feel their selection decision was related to the desire to display these valuable editions for use on a wider basis.
The collection itself is made up of exhaustive scanning of every single page of the four Folios with the option of zooming in from 13% to 100%. The Folios are displayed a single page at a time, and when one is leafing through a play, you can jump from page to page. At the bottom of each image is Dublin Core metadata with the basic information of the Folio. There is also an option of running an advanced search within the Shakepeare collection if you are looking for a particular word or phrase.

The intention of targeting this digital initiative towards students and faculty is pretty obvious. They express this motivation directly on the library's homepage and the way the Shakespeare collection is presented is tailored for research. This is about as close as I can get to the four Folios at one time.

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