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The player: a new way of viewing digital collections

21/11/2012

By Robert Kiley

Since 2010, the Wellcome Library has been digitising a significant amount of material related to the history of genetics. As part of this project, we’ve been working with Digirati, our software partners, to develop a tool to display all of our digitised content, including cover-to-cover books, archives, works of art, videos and audio. The outcome of this work is a player which can display digital material from the Library’s collections. We’re pleased with how it has turned out so far; we hope you’ll think it’s great, too. This blog post will introduce you to the player and some of its key features.

How do I find the digitised stuff?
At present there are two ways to open the player: by browsing the website and by searching the catalogues.

Throughout the Library website, you’ll see artwork from the Library collections which we’ve digitised, like the two gentlemen in top hats shown on this page. You can use the caption link to open up the player.

The second way in to the digital content is through a catalogue search. Wherever there is a digitised book, archive or artwork attached, you’ll see a ‘View Online’ button. This will open up that item in the player. If you want to try it out now, do a search for the book Teach Yourself Genetics.

What can I do with the player?
The player responds to the type of item you’re viewing. For example, if you’ve opened a digital book, you’ll be able to navigate by a thumbnail image of each page, or you can select a chapter or section of the book, and sometimes even multiple volumes, from the Contents menu.

You can also zoom in on images — this works especially well on paintings, posters and other pieces of art. The full-screen option also lets you see more of the image, book or video. Zooming and full-screen work on touchscreen tablet PCs as well as your standard desktop computer.

And that’s not all…
Another key element of the Player is the ability to download items, bookmark images for later and even embed the player on your own website.

Downloads
Wherever possible we have made our digitised content available to download for free. Depending on what kind of item it is, you have the option to download high-resolution and low-resolution images, parts of zoomed-in images, or PDFs.

Bookmarking
In addition to downloading material, you may wish to add selected images to your bookmarks. You will need to login to do this, so that your images can be stored and you can come back for them at a later time. The first time you login you will be asked to agree to our Terms and Conditions. Once you have accepted these, you can add any item to your bookmarks.

To login either enter your Wellcome Library membership details or login with your Twitter, Facebook, Google or Open ID account.

Embedding
Another option is to embed the player, along with your selected object, on your own website or blog. To embed a digital item, select the ‘Embed’ option, choose what size (in pixels) you want the Player to appear, and then copy and paste the code into your HTML. And here’s how it looks:

Want to see more?
Here are some more items which demonstrate different content types accessible via the player:

We’re interested to hear about your experiences using the digital player – especially if something isn’t working properly. Your feedback will help us make fixes and improvements.

We hope this blog post has given you a flavour of what the player can do, but the best thing to do is try for yourself. If you’re interested in some of the technical details of our digitisation programme, you can read about it on the Wellcome Digital Library blog. More information about the digitisation programme can also be found on our website.

About the author

Robert Kiley is Head of Digital Services at the Wellcome Library.

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