ACCESS | Asia 's Newspaper on Electronic Information Product & Service
June 2003 No.45  
   In this issue

Wonderland, Witches and Good Queen Bess  
New online image service makes British Library archive riches available to order
 
 
A new service offers easy access to thousands of unique and unusual images from the illuminated manuscripts, archive photographs, maps and engravings held by the British Library. Images Online  enables users to search thousands of items from Library collections. It currently contains around 8,000 images, ranging from medieval depictions of witchcraft to Lewis Carroll's original drawings for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. 
The story of Meng Jiang nu. A 'New Year' print, made for the Chinese New Year. Meng Jian nu lived during the Qin (221-206BC) and went to find her husband when he was building the Great Wall of China. Title of Work: Illustrated story of Meng Jiang nu travelling 10,000 li in search of her husband. China, early 20th century Language/Script: Chinese. 
While many of these have come from the Picture Library's existing collection of transparencies, some 2,500 are newly digitised images from manuscripts, maps, Asia Pacific and Africa collections, music and philately. Developed in collaboration with image management company iBase, Images Online offers users a sophisticated search facility - including keyword or shelfmark searches and browsing by subject - and the option to buy and download small image files. A link to the Picture Library allows users to order larger files: any image on the site can be supplied as a 30 megabyte TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) on CD-ROM, or a transparency may be available.
  
Babur hunting deer between 'Ali Shang and Alangar, near Kabul., An illustration to the memoirs of the Emperor Babur. Title of Work: Vaqi 'at-i Baburi. Author: Babur, translated by 'Abd al-Rahim Khan-i Khanan. Illustrator: Paras Production: India, c.1590 Language/Script: Persian 
 
  Plants and animals of Burma
 
Images featured on the site span almost a thousand years of book production, with subjects as diverse as the building of the Tower of Babel, Elizabeth I's funeral procession, the plants and animals of Burma and gruesome woodcut images of witches' sabbaths. The selection will continue to expand in the coming months, in collaboration with other BL web projects, publications and exhibitions. It is hoped that some 17,000 images will be online by the end of the year, making the site a valuable and competitively priced resource for professional researchers and interested amateurs alike. 
    
Freelance picture researcher Diana Phillips commented: "I used Images Online for my current historical project and I must say how good I found it. The search facility was easy to use and I found a lot of material new to me, even through I have been using the British Library Picture Library's picture volumes and card catalogue extensively for many years! Being able to print low resolution images for meetings at the early stages of research is ideal." 
      
  Images any time you want them
 
Head of the Picture Library Julia Hardiman added, "With the launch of Images Online, we are taking advantage of the worldwide web to make more of the British Library's images available to more people than ever before. Users with editorial requirements as well as those in the design and creative industries can enjoy the immediacy of searching on the web and ensure that they have the image they want at the time they want it." 
 
A princess killing a snake, watched by her maids, in the manner of a Bijapuri painting. Opaque watercolour. Illustrator: Khan, Mir Kalan Produced c.1770     
   
Images Online is a growing collection of British Library images on the web. It was launched by the British Library Picture Library in February 2003. Its 8,000 images are available as small JPEG files, or to order on CD-ROM as large TIFF files. In some cases a transparency is available. Further information is available on the Images Online website.
   
Emperor Gaozong of the Song. These folios show Emperor Gaozong (r.1127-1162) of the Song dynasty of China. Title of Work: Collection of portraits of Chinese emperors, with historical notes. Produced: China, 18th century Language/Script: Chinese.
 
iBase has developed image management solutions for leading UK and international organisations, such as the British Library, The Wellcome Trust, One-2-One and the Guildhall Library and Art Gallery (the heritage archive of the Corporation of London.) Further information is available on the iBase website .
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