Monday, January 26, 2009

Folger Goes Digital

Ok, shame on me – Amy from the Folger Shakespeare Library sends me a press release almost 2 weeks ago, and I go and completely forget to post the thing!  I’m horrible.

I imagine a day when e-book technology comes together with such digitizing of classic works, and I can quite literally have the entire Folger library at my fingertips.


January 16, 2009      Garland Scott, (202) 675-0342,

Folger Shakespeare Library Expands Access to Digital Collection

Washington, DC – The Folger Shakespeare Library, home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials, is expanding access to its digital collection by offering free online access to over 20,000 images from the library’s holdings. The digital image collection includes books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and 218 of the Folger’s pre-1640 quarto editions of the works of William Shakespeare. Users can now examine these collection items in detail while accessing the Folger’s rare materials from desktops anywhere in the world.

“Digital initiatives are an important and ongoing part of our mission to provide access to the Folger collection,” said Gail Kern Paster, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “Cherishing the past has never been in conflict with embracing the future. The promise of digitization is one more powerful case in point. We now have opportunities to bring the Folger’s extraordinary collection to more users than ever.”

Julie Ainsworth, the Folger’s Head of Photography and Digital Imaging, said, “We began digitizing the collection in 1995. By making the collection available online, we are giving researchers and the public an important tool.”

The Folger’s digital image collection provides resources for users to view multiple images side by side, save their search results, create permanent links to images, and perform other tasks through a free software program, Luna Insight.

Stephen Enniss, Eric Weinmann Librarian at the Folger said that “These features will create more

ways for researchers, students, and teachers to experience the collection. They can share images with each other, generate online galleries, and examine items from Queen Elizabeth’s letters to costume sketches. As a library we’re continually seeking ways to expand access for researchers and students across the country and around the world.”

The Folger is also collaborating with the University of Oxford to digitize 75 quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays and create the Shakespeare Quartos Archive, which will provide free online access to interactive, high-resolution images of the plays. The Shakespeare Quartos Archive is funded by a new Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grant awarded jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Joint Information Systems Committee. In addition, Picturing Shakespeare will make 100,000 images from the Folger collection – including prints, unique drawings, and photography relating to Shakespeare – available to teachers, scholars, and the general public in 2010 through an initiative from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Both projects join a fast-growing body of podcasts, videos, and other online content produced by the library.

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Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-class center for scholarship, learning, culture, and the arts. It is home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection and a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500–1750). Folger Shakespeare Library is an internationally recognized research library offering advanced scholarly programs in the humanities; an innovator in the preservation of rare materials; a national leader in how Shakespeare is taught in grades K–12; and an award-winning producer of cultural and arts programs – theater, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. By promoting understanding of Shakespeare and his world, Folger Shakespeare Library reminds us of the enduring influence of his works, the formative effects of the Renaissance on our own time, and the power of the written and spoken word. A gift to the American people from industrialist Henry Clay Folger, the Folger Shakespeare Library – located one block east of the U.S. Capitol – opened in 1932. Learn more at

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1 comment:

catkins said...

Great concept, but hard to find on the website. Also would be nice if they had the content indexed instead of just searchable so you could see what is there.