The digitized Hertford Atlas

Hertford Atlas 1/2, fol. 19v

Last autumn, BDLSS collaborated with Hertford College to digitize its copies of Abraham Ortelius’s 1573 Theatrum orbis terrarum and Georg Braun’s 1574 Civitates orbis terrarum, two landmark works in the history of cartography, known collectively as the Hertford Atlas. The digitization was undertaken as a celebration of the return of the atlas to Humboldt University in Berlin, whence it came at the end of the Second World War. The digitized atlas is now in Digital.Bodleian, with a IIIF manifest and image endpoints to enable creative and scholarly engagement with this resource.

To mark the anniversary of Abraham Ortelius’s death in 1598, we published a series of tweets on Tuesday encouraging Twitter users to engage with the digitized atlas. You can read them all on Storify.

Introducing the IIIF First Folio

The First Folio in the Universal Viewer

To commemorate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death and to celebrate the opening of the Bodleian Libraries’ “Shakespeare’s Dead” exhibit, we have added our copy of the First Folio to Digital.Bodleian and created a IIIF manifest that allows the full structure of the book to be displayed in Digirati’s Universal Viewer.

The Bodleian’s First Folio has an unusual history: it was acquired by the Bodleian when it was printed in 1623, then sold off a few decades later, then rediscovered and repurchased for the Bodleian through a crowdfunding campaign in the early 1900s. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, another public campaign in 2012 raised funds for the Bodleian to stabilize and digitize the First Folio and, later, to create full-text TEI transcriptions of each play. The images and transcriptions can be viewed and downloaded from the First Folio project website. Now, by adding the First Folio to Digital.Bodleian and creating images and metadata that are compatible with the standards of the International Image Interoperability Framework, we are opening up this resource for further use by institutions and researchers across the world.

Creating the IIIF First Folio was a multi-step process. Adding the images and metadata to Digital.Bodleian allowed us to generate a bare-bones IIIF manifest, which included page-level metadata but did not reflect the structure of the plays. To allow users to navigate through the book’s contents, we then hand-edited the manifest to add nested ranges of images corresponding to each play and scene. The finished manifest is almost 30,000 lines long.

Digital.Bodleian’s embedded image viewer doesn’t support image ranges, so instead, we’re directing users to the Universal Viewer, a IIIF viewer produced by Digirati, the Wellcome Library, the British Library and the IIIF community. The Universal Viewer—which can be accessed directly from the First Folio in Digital.Bodleian by clicking on the purple “UV” button—features an “Index” panel that displays the multiple levels of structural hierarchy described in the First Folio’s IIIF manifest. The Universal Viewer is also embeddable, so if you like, you can add the First Folio to your own website. You can also link to particular parts of each page, as the URL of each Universal Viewer session is live-updated with the coordinates of the part of the image you are currently viewing. (For example, here is Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech.)First Folio in its box

Finally, this re-publication of the First Folio includes several previously-unpublished images of the book’s binding. The Bodleian’s copy is rare in that it has not been rebound since its initial printing almost 400 years ago, so these images are especially valuable, conveying a sense of the weight, size and condition of the original object.


– Emma Stanford


12th-century Arabic manuscript added to Digital.Bodleian

MS. Huntington 212, fol. 40r

MS. Huntington 212, fol. 40r

Since the launch of Digital.Bodleian last July, the number of images on the site has almost tripled. This is mostly thanks to the ongoing Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project, but we have also been undertaking smaller digitization projects for colleges and departments within the University of Oxford. These projects include Hertford College’s Ortelius Atlas, digitized in October, and Exeter College’s Prideaux manuscript.

Our most recent addition is the Bodleian’s MS. Huntington 212, a 12th-century copy of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Ṣūfī’s Book of Fixed Stars. This important Arabic manuscript, a treatise on the constellations, is now available to view online via Digital.Bodleian, with catalogue information available via Fihrist. More information about the manuscript can be found in a post by Alasdair Watson over at the blog for Archives and Manuscripts.

Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project update: Hebrew manuscripts

After four years, this landmark digitization project, a collaboration with the Vatican Library, is nearing its close. We at BDLSS, along with our colleagues in Imaging Services and Special Collections, are hard at work finishing up the digitization stage of the project. When this is done, the next step is to migrate all the Polonsky Project content—more than a thousand manuscripts and early printed books—to Digital.Bodleian, where it will all be centrally searchable and integrated with IIIF.

In the meantime, we already have 410 Hebrew manuscripts available on Digital.Bodleian, and that number is increasing every week. We are blogging about these manuscripts over at the project website, with recent posts on micrography and mathematical treatises.

MS. Canonici Or. 42, fol. 178r

MS. Canonici Or. 42, fol. 178r

The Bodleian’s 12 Millionth Printed Book Goes Online

Shelley adds. d.14

Shelley adds. d.14

Yesterday, in a ceremony at the Weston Library, Bodley’s Librarian Richard Ovenden announced the Bodleian’s latest acquisition and its 12 millionth printed book: a formerly lost pamphlet containing a “poetical essay” by an 18-year-old Percy Bysshe Shelley (described on the pamphlet’s title page only as “a gentleman of the University of Oxford”). The pamphlet was printed in Oxford in 1811, rediscovered in 2006, and recently donated to the Bodleian by Mr Brian Fenwick-Smith.

The pamphlet has been digitized by the Bodleian and a TEI transcription has been created. You can view the images and transcription, and learn more about the pamphlet, on its brand-new microsite. The pamphlet has also been added to Digital.Bodleian, with IIIF-compatible images and metadata. (It is also now in SOLO, having been catalogued as Shelley adds. d.14.)

As challenging as it has been to digitize such a recent acquisition, which even yesterday was still in the process of being catalogued, we are proud to have been involved in this event, and pleased that this remarkable addition to the Bodleian’s collection is being shared with web users worldwide.

Digital.Bodleian at Alumni Weekend

MS. D'Orville 301, f. 40r

Euclid’s Elementa in Digital.Bodleian

Last weekend the Bodleian invited engineering science alumni attending the University of Oxford’s Alumni Weekend (18-20 September) to a presentation on the Bodleian’s engineering-related materials. This event was held in the Bahari Room and the Centre for Digital Scholarship at the Weston Library. While Julie-Anne Lambert of the John Johnson Collection showed our guests a selection of printed ephemera related to automobiles and engineering, I gave a brief tour of the old Toyota Project website (created in 1996 to display images of ephemera digitized with funding from Toyota City) and then gave a demo of our new collections delivery interface, Digital.Bodleian. While the engineers were disappointed that I couldn’t currently show them any editions of Newton or Pythagoras in Digital.Bodleian, they showed interest in the technical aspects and capabilities of the site, especially in the ways in which the IIIF APIs and apps such as Mirador can be used to view and compare items in Digital.Bodleian and other repositories.

– Emma Stanford

Launch of Digital.Bodleian

Digital.Bodleian landing page

We’re very pleased to announce that our new unified digital collections platform, Digital.Bodleian, is now live. For the first time, it is possible to search and browse the Bodleian’s online special collections via a single interface. The site was launched on Wednesday at an event in the new Weston Library, with a lecture by Bruno Racine, president of the Bibliothèque nationale de France (whose Gallica is a well-established giant of digital library collections), and a speech by BDLSS’s own Lucie Burgess.

Digital.Bodleian has occupied the energies of a number of BDLSS people for some time now, and we are very excited to see it go live. The site’s landing page was designed by ONE, and the iNQUIRE search and browse interface was built by Armadillo (whose code will shortly be going open-source). We will have another post later on about the technical specs, but there are a couple of things we would like to highlight:

  1. Digital.Bodleian is IIIF-compliant, so you can view the manifest for any item, use the item’s UUID to open it in a IIIF viewer such as Mirador or Digirati’s Universal Viewer, and keep pace with future IIIF developments. Links to the IIIF manifest and the Universal Viewer are included in each item’s metadata panel within Digital.Bodleian.
  2. The content of the Bodleian Libraries’ diverse online collections, such as Luna,, and the Polonsky Foundation Digitization Project, is in the process of migration to Digital.Bodleian. Much of it is already there, and we hope to migrate the rest of it by the end of this year.
  3. Digital.Bodleian is interactive: you can tag and annotate items and build your own collections to download and export. The download package includes both the image (as a lower-resolution JPEG) and the metadata, but you can also download a JPEG of a portion of an image by right-clicking.

For more information, please see the Bodleian’s press release about the launch, an article by  BBC Oxford, and this Storify of DB tips. Also check out the next few weeks’ Twitter coverage by @bodleianlibs and @BDLSS.

– Emma Stanford