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A few years ago, there was a commercial for some computer manufacturer or telephone company, or something of the like, showing someone in a library watching a computer screen with an open book on it. The excitement was that soon emerging technologies would allow libraries to share books over the internet, allowing one to read the book like one was there. I hadn’t seen it until now.
The other day perusing the BBC news site, I noticed a link adverstising an original “Alice” manuscript by Carroll. Being a Lewis Carroll fan, I decided to investigate. My search led me to the The British Library. In the recent past, the British Library opened a project called Turning the Pages.
Turning the Pages is the answer to prayers of lovers of books and antiquities everywhere. Not only does it allows one to read a book in its intended form, but it also allows one to turn through its pages. I was able to open the original handwritten manuscript of “Alice’s Adventures Under Ground” and behold the works of a beloved author. I could click page after page, simulate turning the pages, and zoom in on text and images.
That was not all. Other books featured on the project were manuscripts from Jane Austin, Da Vinci’s notebook, the Diamond Sutra (the first book ever printed), and others. Not only do you get the pure joy of looking at something unique and rare, but you also have the opportunity to step through the looking glass and see into the author’s soul by the work of his own hands.