Eric Maslowski, Technical Creative Consultant

Digital Art Home

PictureIt Rare Book Reader

The University of Michigan Libraries has some the rarest and well preserved books in the world. Many of these books are unavailable for the general public to peruse at their own leisure. One such example is the Audubon collection of wildlife books. These beautiful volumes detail hundreds of bird species in dramatic pose. Each painting is done in amazing detail which needs to be seen. Currently, the Library's copy is located in a locked display case in which the page is turned once every day. If one wanted to experience the entire collection it would take over a year to see every page. Simply placing scans of the pages on the web take away from the impressive nature of the work as everything becomes discrete images instead of pages belonging to a complete book.

The "PictureIt" project aimed to create a more natural interface for interacting with digital books online. Using a series of freely available programming libraries and Adobe Flex, a generalized framework was created that automatically sizes itself to the pages/images given to it. One can then click-n-drag on the page corners to interactively turn the pages of the book. One can also explore deeper by entering "detail view" which provides an interface for zooming and panning high resolution scans of the current page so the finer details can be appreciated as well. The code has been released under the creative commons license. To download visit: PictureIt Rare Book Reader Code.

Since most of the content is quite rare and well protected, I cannot post many shots of the work here but you can see the Audubon "Birds of America" application live using the links below.

Volume (1.1 | 1.2 | 2.1 | 2.2 | 3.1 | 3.2 | 4.1 | 4.2)

Copyright Information