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Have you ever come across a beautiful old book locked
away in a glass case in a library and wanted to leaf through it?
Now, you can — virtually — from anywhere in the world,
using a computer and web browser.
Using the new, free, online version of “Turning the Pages” (http://archive.nlm.nih.gov/proj/ttp/intro.htm),
viewers can flip through three treasured books from the 16th century
with a click of their computer mouse.
Actually, the National Library of Medicine is taking a page — pun
intended — from its successful program that allows viewers
to turn the pages of rare books virtually, via a touchscreen monitor,
at kiosks at its Bldg. 38 headquarters.
The high-tech and historical worlds intersect in the "Turning
the Pages" technology, which was pioneered by the British Library
in 1998, came to NLM in 2001 and was subsequently re-engineered.
In addition to looking at the high-quality digital images, the
reader can use the zoom feature to magnify any portion of the page
for more detail. An audioclip provides information about each page
and that narrative, by NLM historians, can also be viewed as text.
The three works are:
|These two prosthetic hands from the
Paré text are so complex and precise that one
wonders whether they were ever made or used. The lower
one is equipped with a special quill holder, for writing.
- Konrad Gesner's (1516-1565) Historiae Animalium (Studies
on Animals) This is a compendium of colorful zoological hand-colored
woodcuts. Although it includes descriptions of such creatures
as satyrs and unicorns, this masterpiece was the first attempt
to describe many of the world's animals accurately.
- Ambroise Paré (1510-1590), the author of the second book, Oeuvres (Collected
Works), was a French surgeon from humble beginnings who revolutionized
how surgeons treat wounds. His book features surgical instruments
and prosthetic devices from the 16th century.
- Andreas Vesalius's (1514-1564), De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On
the Fabric of the Human Body) features detailed engravings by
artists from the workshop of Titian. Vesalius created the modern
science of anatomy and produced one of the most influential works
in the history of medicine.
"We plan to continue adding to the online bookshelf of 'Turning
the Pages,'" said TTP project director Dr. George Thoma. "For historians,
students and just about anyone, this program is a hit. It makes
learning fun and it gives us a chance to show NLM volumes to people
who might never have a chance to visit us." Thoma is chief of the
Communications Engineering Branch of NLM's Lister Hill National
Center for Biomedical Communications.
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