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E-BOOKS – THE OLDEST E-BOOK IN THE WORLD

THE OLDEST EUROPEAN BOOK – DIGITIZED

Not to disappoint, but the image above is not a view of the rumored iPad Mini.. However, it may have presaged the iPad Mini by some 1,300 years. According to Art Info:

The St Cuthbert Gospel, a 7th century manuscript copy of the Gospel of St John, has joined the British Library collection following the most successful fundraising campaign in the library’s 39-year history.

This rare document is the oldest European book to have survived undamaged. It was placed in St Cuthbert’s coffin on Lindisfarne, on the North East coast of England, in 698, and found in 1104 when the saint was exhumed in order to be placed in a new shrine.

‘To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the 7th century [698] would have seen it,” said chief executive of the British Library Dame Lynne Brindley. “The exquisite binding, the pages, even the sewing structure survive intact, offering us a direct connection with our forebears 1300 years ago.’

SIGNIFICANCE FOR FINE ART IN THE NEW MEDIA

The discovery of St. Cuthbert Gospel is monumental. From the point of view of this Blog, the digitization of it is a spectacular display of the British Library using the new media to make the book accessible throughout the world. This is another instance of a museum trumping the traditional print media in the use of the new media technology.

The following video tells the story of the acquisition of the book. Notice also at ~2:01, how Claire Breay, Lead Curator Medieval & Earlier Manuscripts, describes the cover of the book as containing both European and Eastern Mediterranean Symbols.

The £9 ($14) million necessary to secure the purchase include a £4.5 million grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, gifts from the Art Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, and the Foyle Foundation, as well as important donations from charitable trusts and individual donors.

The acquisition involved a formal partnership between the British Library, Durham University, and Durham Cathedral. Display of the St Cuthbert Gospel will be shared equally between London and the North East. It will be shown in Durham for the first time in the July 2013 at Durham University’s Palace Green Library.

The book has been fully digitized and is available for free on the British Library website.

The site includes images of the front and back covers, the bindings, and all of the pages.
Moreover, these may be enlarged on-screen with excellent resolution, allowing the viewer to see the book in a way uniquely different from seeing the original in the Library.

This shows the foresight of the British Library to use the new media to present the manuscript to viewers worldwide, and to provide a unique experience, different from the library/museum experience. The two are in harmony, and there is no doubt that the new media will encourage future Library visits.

The following video clip is titled “Old and New Media Meet in the British Library.” It terms the digitization nothing less than a “radical transformation.”

KILLER APPS

The British Library has a number of free apps for smartphones and the iPad.

Lastly this website, Mashpedia is a great find for other videos on the British Library. Go New Media!

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