May 31, 2005 "Page by Page" Technology Featured in New Exhibition

Program Simulates Turning Pages of a Real Book

Press Contact: Helen Dalrymple (202) 707-1940
Public Contact: (202) 707-4604

Visitors to “The Cultures & History of the Americas” exhibition in the North Gallery of the Library of Congress’ Great Hall can simulate the experience of turning the pages of a 17th century Dutch book on buccaneers at an interactive video kiosk located in the exhibition.

Building on technology developed first at the British Library and enhanced by the National Library of Medicine, Library of Congress specialists created a new program—dubbed “Page by Page”—that allows users to replicate the experience of turning the pages of a real book by touching the computer screen. Beyond the simple act of turning the pages, the visitor can also zoom in anywhere on the page to enlarge a portion of the image, read or hear a translation of the words on the page and open the foldout pages to their full, extended size.

The book used in this display is Alexander O. Exquemelin’s 1678 “De Americaensche Zee-Roovers” (“The Buccaneers of America”), one of the most significant books on the exploits of pirates ever written, which is still in print. Its most recent edition in English, from which the translation for the video kiosk is taken, was published in 2000. The original book is the first edition of an eyewitness account of famous buccaneers and their exploits by a surgeon who spent nearly a decade traveling with them in the Caribbean in the 1660s. It is one of the items recently donated to the Library of Congress by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation of Miami Lakes, Fla., that are featured in the exhibition “The Cultures & History of the Americas.”

Library staff collaborated on the “Page by Page” project with the National Library of Medicine and selected the sample pages for the interactive display to give a good representation of the vivid narratives and full-page engravings found in the original book, which is on display in the exhibition.

A second interactive video kiosk, developed by Second Story Interactive Studios, provides a close-up view of another of the items in the exhibition, a small seventh century Maya wooden Tortuguero box, so-called because its inscriptions can be associated with Tortuguero, Mexico. The kiosk allows visitors to manipulate the box on the screen, turning it around and upside down, removing the lid and translating the carved glyphs that cover the box, all of which tell a story of Aj K’az B’ahlam, the box’s owner.

“The Cultures & History of the Americas” highlights some of the treasures of the Jay I. Kislak Collection and gives an idea of the breadth and scope of the materials that comprise this major gift to the Library of Congress. The complete collection—which focuses on the history of the early Americas, from the indigenous peoples of Mexico through the period of European contact, exploration and settlement—contains several thousand rare books, maps, manuscripts and documents, as well as an extensive research library of secondary sources. Complementing the books and manuscripts is a group of masterworks of pre-Columbian artifacts and colonial art from North and South America, spanning three millennia of Native American and European cultures.

This highlights exhibition presents approximately 50 artifacts that introduce the themes of the collection and help to explain what motivated and inspired the collectors, Jay and Jean Kislak of Miami. The themes include the pre-Columbian cultures of Central America and the Caribbean as revealed in sculpture, architecture and language; encounters between Europeans and the native cultures; the process of European colonization; and trade and piracy in the American Atlantic and Caribbean. This temporary exhibition is mounted as a preview of the permanent Kislak Gallery, which will open in the future on the northeast side of the Jefferson Building. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Saturday, through July 23.


PR 05-113
ISSN 0731-3527