PictureIt Rare Book Reader

March 08, 2010

We bring old books to life. See them again for the first time.

by Catherine Soehner

It is my pleasure to announce the public debut of PictureIt Rare Book Reader (http://www.lib.umich.edu/pictureit). A collaborative effort between several Library units, the product is now available for shared use after 18 months in development.

PictureIt Rare Book Reader

PictureIt is a web-based animation program that gives users the sensation of turning the pages of digitized rare materials that would be otherwise difficult, if not impossible, to view or obtain. Volume 1 of John James Audubon’s Birds of America was selected as the inaugural PictureIt book for a few reasons. Foremost, the eight volume set has special meaning as the first purchase for the Library by the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan. As well, the University of Pittsburgh had already digitized all volumes of the Birds of America set and was willing to share the images with us. And finally, the illustrated plates of this set were intricately completed, making them as much art work as scientific work. Volume 1 of Audubon’s Birds of America was also selected for the first PictureIt book because its complex images demonstrate the product’s embedded magnification tool which allows users to get up-close and view the details of each illustration.

While the Library is excited to share Volume 1 of Audubon’s Birds of America within the University of Michigan community, the scope of the PictureIt project is much larger. The animation programming for PictureIt was designed as a template to allow for the easy and quick insertion of other digitized rare materials. The PictureIt project is also under a Creative Commons License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en, which will allow others to use and change the programming with proper attribution to the University of Michigan. As a result, we hope many institutions will post their digitized rare materials using PictureIt as a growing collection of primary source materials available for worldwide viewing.

I wish to express my deep gratitude to the many people who participated in bringing PictureIt from idea to finished product, including Lilienne Chan, Peggy Daub, Sara Henry, Karen Jordan, Melissa Levine, Ken Varnum, John Weise, and John Merlin Williams. I also would like to extend a special thanks to Eric Maslowski, who provided the programming skills and the vision of a template for this product.

Update April 2, 2010: Application and Source Now Available


Posted by John Weise at 11:17 AM. Permalink


Is ere a site for the distribution and discussion of the PictureIt code? The link in this post goes to the public interface to the Audubon’s Birds of America, but I don't see a link to the software itself.

Posted by: peter@OhioLINK.edu at March 9, 2010 08:22 PM



At this time we ask that you please contact Eric, the programmer. The above link has his contact info.



Posted by: jweise at March 10, 2010 11:09 AM

Also, PictureIt code will be released under Creative Commons license in the near future and an announcement will be made at that time.

Posted by: jweise at March 10, 2010 11:36 AM

What CC license will the code be release under?

I was under the impression that one should not release code under CC, but use a GPL, Apache, or BSD license.

Posted by: ruestn@gmail.com at March 10, 2010 03:47 PM

The plan is to use http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en but we are open to suggestions.

Notice in the original post the part about there being a configurable application as well as source code, in case it makes a difference.

Posted by: jweise at March 10, 2010 04:18 PM

This is great!
Have you thought about building in a rotate feature to turn the landscape pages?
Also, it would be wonderful to "unfold" fold-outs somehow.
Once the source code is released, maybe these features will be developed and shared...
Thank you!

Posted by: tblake@bpl.org at March 16, 2010 09:14 PM

Yes, rotation has been identified as a desired enhancement. Foldouts always present challenges. I agree it would be nice to be able to open them up. Thanks!

Posted by: jweise at March 17, 2010 01:56 PM

What amazes me is the page turning...BY FAR.

The kindle rushed to market (for obvious reasons) sure...but this is about the reading experience.

Love it.

Posted by: kb62591b@gmail.com at February 2, 2012 03:10 PM

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