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NLM's "Turning the Pages" now Online

Have you ever come across a beautiful old book locked away in a glass case in a library and wanted to leaf through it? Now, you can (virtually), anywhere in the world, using a computer and Web browser.

Using the new, free, online version of "Turning the Pages" (// , viewers can flip through three treasured 16th century books from the National Library of Medicine's collection with a click of their computer mouse.

Actually, NLM is taking a page (pun intended) from its successful program that allows viewers to turn the pages of rare books virtually, via a touchscreen monitor, at kiosks at its Bethesda headquarters.

The high-tech and historical worlds intersect in the "Turning the Pages" technology, which was pioneered by the British Library in 1998, came to NLM in 2001 and was subsequently re-engineered. In addition to looking at the high-quality digital images, the reader can use the zoom feature to magnify any portion of the page for more detail. An audioclip provides information about each page and that narrative, by NLM historians, can also be viewed as text.

The three works are:

  • Konrad Gesner's (1516-1565) Historiae Animalium (Studies on Animals) is a delightful compendium of colorful zoological hand- colored woodcuts. Although it includes descriptions of such creatures as satyrs and unicorns, this masterpiece was the first attempt to describe many of the world's animals accurately.
  • Ambroise Pare' (1510-1590), the author of the second book, Oeuvres (Collected Works), was a French surgeon from humble beginnings who revolutionized how surgeons treat wounds. His book features surgical instruments and prosthetic devices from the 16th century.
  • Andreas Vesalius's (1514-1564), De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body) features beautifully detailed engravings by artists from the workshop of Titian. Vesalius created the modern science of anatomy and produced one of the most influential works in the history of medicine.

"We plan to continue adding to the online bookshelf of `Turning the Pages,'" said TTP project director Dr. George Thoma. "For historians, students and just about anyone, this program is a hit. It makes learning fun and it gives us a chance to show NLM volumes to people who might never have a chance to visit us." Thoma is chief of the Communications Engineering Branch of NLM's Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications.

NOTE: There are technical requirements for viewers wanting to view "Turning the Pages" online.

  1. CPU: At least 800 MHz CPU; 1.2+ GHz recommended
  2. RAM: 256 MB RAM required
  3. Connection: DSL, cable or T1 required
  4. Resolution: 1024 x 768 recommended
  5. Audio: A sound card and speakers
  6. Web Browser: Internet Explorer 5+ recommended
  7. Flash Player: Flash Player 6+ required. Users can download Flash Player at no cost from the TTP Web site.

If you have questions about the content or technical requirements of the online version of "Turning the Pages," please click on "CONTACTS" on the site's front page and look for the appropriate expert.