British Library: Save our Sounds

The nation’s sound collections are under threat, both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production. Global archival consensus is that we have approximately 15 years in which to save our sound collections by digitising them before they become unplayable and are effectively lost. Armadillo have written a custom backend system which is helping The British Library preserve the nation’s Sound Archive, an extraordinary collection of over 6.5 million recordings of speech, music, wildlife and the environment, from the 1880s to the present day. Find out more about our work on the British Library AV SIP Tool here.

Turning the Pages at the Diamond Jubilee Galleries, Westminster Abbey

This summer saw the grand opening of the newly constructed Diamond Jubilee Galleries at Westminster Abbey. Built at a cost of £22.9 million the new gallery space sits high above the Abbey floor, in the beautiful 13th century triforium. On display are some of our greatest treasures which tell the story of a thousand years of British history.

Armadillo Systems were tasked with creating a Turning the Pages Gallery version of The Litlyngton Missal, this missal was commissioned by Abbot Nicholas Litlyngton for use at the Abbey’s high altar and was made at Westminster between 1383 and 1385. The text and illumination (decoration using gold leaf and colour) took three unnamed artists and scribe two years to complete. This Turning the Pages features a custom user interface themed specifically for the new gallery, and specular highlights on all the pages, due to the extensive amount of gold leaf throughout the book.

Opened by Her Majesty The Queen, the new galleries are spectacular and definitely worth a visit, even the access to them is remarkable. A new seven storey tower (the Weston Tower) was built just outside Poet’s Corner, it conceals a lift shaft and spiral staircase, connecting to the building by a bridge. It’s so discreet and perfectly integrated in to the existing structure of the Abbey you might not even notice it if you were walking by.

For more information on visiting the Diamond Jubilee Galleries head to the Westminster Abbey website.

Turning the Pages: Andreas Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica

One of our all time favourite medieval books we have made in to a Turning the Pages is Andreas Vesalius’ De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) which you can view online, or at the British Library as a Turning the Pages Gallery kiosk.

The book is one of the most influential works in the history of Western medicine. Vesalius was both a gifted dissector and a learned scholar,  by collecting and presenting his research in De Fabrica he created the modern science of anatomy. The book was published in 1543, with more than 600 pages of text and beautifully detailed engravings by artists from the workshop of Titian. Looking at the engravings of the skeletons and muscle men, set in lifelike poses against the backdrop of the Italian countryside of Padua, you can see the obvious lasting influence of the book, right up to the present day with exhibitions such as Gunther von Hagens’ Body Worlds.

You can watch a short video capture of the interactive kiosk on our YouTube channel:

Using Turning the Pages to Explore Stained Glass Windows

Stained glass windows are beautiful and striking features of many churches, mosques, libraries and other significant buildings. They are also wonderful feats of skillful artistry and engineering, often depicting important events in religion, history, science and art. Have you ever seen one, admired its beauty, but wondered what was the cultural significance the scene being depicted? They can be hard to explore and examine in detail in situ in their parent building.

University College Cork (UCC) have one such window dedicated to George Boole, one of the fathers of the information age, where he was a professor. UCC approached Armadillo Systems to see if there was a way of making their window into an explorable and explanatory touchscreeen interactive. Turning the Pages technology is ideally suited to this, as it can also be used for flat objects. We added in a custom hotspot highlighting system so each pane of the window could be examined individually, with the app also having associated media relating to George Boole’s impact on modern society, and details on the preservation of the window itself. Watch the below video to see the interactive window application in action.

Museums Association Conference and Exhibition 2017: Microsoft Surface Studio Videos

Thanks to everyone who visited our stand at the Museums Association Conference and Exhibition 2017, it was great catching up with old friends and making some new acquaintances. A big thanks must go to Microsoft for the loan of a brand new Surface Studio, which allowed us to demonstrate the Saint John’s Bible Turning the Pages in 4K UHD, needless to say it looked stunning! We made some short videos at the conference, and also back at the office as we couldn’t resist trying some of our older Turning the Pages books on the Surface Studio to see how they looked, again the superb quality of the screen really gave them a new lease of life.

The Saint John’s Bible Gallery Now Open

The Saint John’s Bible is now publicly on display in a dedicated gallery located on the lower level of Alcuin Library on the Saint John’s University Campus. The gallery has free admission and features 28 original folios showcasing works from all seven volumes of the Bible. There are also other rare books and manuscripts from the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library collections on display to complement the exhibition of the folios. Tools, materials and sketches used in the production of The Saint John’s Bible give an insight in to the processes used to create this colossal work of faith and art, as well as an interactive video player, created by Armadillo, which allows you to meet the team behind the project.

Find out more about our work on The Saint John’s Bible project here.

The Saint John's Bible Gallery, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John's University, Minnesota, USA
The Saint John’s Bible Gallery (photo credit Wayne Torborg, 2017, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA)
Saint John's Bible Turning the Pages 4K
Saint John’s Bible Turning the Pages 4K (photo credit Wayne Torborg, 2017, Hill Museum & Manuscript Library, Saint John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, USA)

iNQUIRE Now Available on GitHub

iNQUIRE is a digital research platform, designed to surface any digital repository using any metadata schema. Coded in ASP.NET MVC and with a responsive HTML5/Knockout frontend, it utilises the power of a Solr index via RESTful requests. It’s a customisable framework designed to fast-track your digital access ambitions, whatever file formats, schemas and repositories you use. Now supporting the IIIF Presentation API and Image API. The code has now been made available  on GibHub.

Bodleian Digital Library Launched

The Bodleian Library have launched their new unified digital collections platform, Digital.Bodleian, powered by iNQUIRE. 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 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. Go and have a have a look at the Digital.Bodleian website!

eBookTreasures iOS App

eBookTreasures is a collection of the greatest books in the world, made available as digital facsimiles. Initially this is for iPad, but we’re looking at other platforms as they emerge. We’re working with the British Library, Royal Society, Natural History Museum and many others to bring you these rare and beautiful books. Find out more on the eBookTreasures website or Download the iOS app from iTunes here.