The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Folger Tooltips: Cover-to-Cover

19th c. wood engraving showing open books

Greetings, dear Readers

This episode of Folger Tooltips covers a variety of methods for accessing cover-to-cover page images of early printed books and bound manuscripts from the Folger collection. At the moment there are three basic ways in:

  • via Insight’s tried-and-true “Multi-page documents” (accessible once you have installed our free java client);
  • via Luna’s web-based “BookReader views” (compound digital objects represented by a single thumbnail in search results); and,
  • via what we’re calling “BookReader thumbnails” (sets of Luna search results represented by screens of thumbnails in page-by-page sort order).

So let’s get started!

Insight multi-page documents

A free software installation of the Insight java client provides the cover-to-cover viewing method perhaps most familiar to long-time users of our Digital Image Collection.

We’ve been at this awhile with the Insight client. The first major collection of items imaged cover-to-cover and made accessible through Insight was the culmination of a project begun in 2006 and completed in 2008: high-resolution digital imagery of 210 copies of our pre-1640 quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays, poems and apocrypha.

Once you’ve installed Insight, and logged in as usual with ‘guest’ as both username and password, here are a couple of tips and screenshots for how to better locate and navigate through these and other cover-to-cover items:

  • Find all multi-page documents: mouse over and click the yellow book widget in the upper right corner of your screen to retrieve only these items. Here’s how that looks:

Screenshot of Insight java client: find multi-page documents

  • Re-sort multi-pagers by Creator (PDI), then by Title (PDI): Once you’ve used the yellow book widget to retrieve all (and only) multi-page documents, turn your attention to the sort. Our default sort in Insight is Call Number (PDI); changing this is one way to navigate quickly to a known author or item. Choose group  > sort by on the left side of your screen to change your “Primary sort field” and “Secondary sort field” options.  Here’s what it looks like:

Screenshot of Insight java client: resorting search results by Creator / Title

  • Workspace thumbnails: This is one of the most useful, yet most hidden, features of Insight! Here’s how it works: as usual, double-click any multi-pager from your screen of search results in order to launch the Insight workspace. Then invoke the multi-page document thumbnail window by clicking in the lower right of your workspace screen. Like this:

Screenshot of Insight java client: invoking workspace thumbnails

  • A vertical band of thumbnails will appear; scroll through it to select specific pages you’d like to jump to. A white box will appear around the thumbnail you click and that page will appear in the center of the workspace:

Screenshot of Insight java client: workspace thumbnail display

  • Or navigate page-by-page using the floating remote (shaped a bit like a squashed stop sign):

Screenshot of Insight java client: workspace page-by-page navigation

  • Of course, you’ll get extra credit if you pull in multiple multi-pagers to compare side-by-side. E.g., two of our four copies of the 1637 fifth quarto of Hamlet?

Screenshot of Insight java client: workspace with more than one multi-page document

Luna BookReader views

As enticing as the Insight java client is, one drawback is that we can’t deeplink directly with a static URL to a specific set of cover-to-cover images. Thankfully, the good folks at Luna Imaging released an upgrade to the web client in 2010 that introduced welcome new “BookReader” functionality. We are therefore beginning to implement hyperlinks directly from Hamnet records to their digitized surrogates in our Digital Image Database.

For example,  Thomas Fella’s extensively-illustrated manuscript of emblems, proverbs, poems, “ditties” and other items is cataloged in Hamnet (Folger MS V.a.311). Scroll through the bibliographic record and you’ll note that the mss itself is restricted, but that we’ve got a number of otherwise available surrogates: in microfilm (FILM Fo. 39.17) and photocopy (PR1405 .F31 R.R.) available on-site, and a digital reproduction available both on- and off-site. Here’s what that portion of the Hamnet bibliographic record looks like :

Hamnet hyperlink to BookReader view

Follow the “Linked Resources” hyperlink to the Luna MS V.a.311 (BookReader view) and you’ll find a description of the item accompanied by a page-by-page BookReader; click through to either “Open  Book in Full View,” or to “Show Book Thumbnails” to maximize your available screen real estate:

Screenshot of Luna BookReader: Open book in full view or Show book thumbnails

From a “Full View” you can scroll through thumbnails, or “flip” right or left:

Screenshot of Luna BookReader: full view

These BookReader views are also accessible via searching or browsing directly in Luna. You’ll always know when you’ve hit upon a  BookReader in Luna because of two things: the presence of “(BookReader view)” in the Call Number (PDI) field, and the red book icon superimposed on the cover thumbnail:

Screenshot of Luna BookReader: thumbnail views in search results

Luna BookReader thumbnails

As useful as this Luna BookReader view is, the current “1.0” version doesn’t quite work as well as we’d like like in certain cases—in particular, in cases where our images reproduce double-page spreads. Instead, at the moment BookReader seems to work best in cases where just one page appears in each digital image. So we’re engaged in another approach for some of our cover-to-cover items: linking from Hamnet to sets of thumbnails in page-by-page sort order.

For instance, the Folger owns the only extant copy of the earliest recorded edition of Marlowe’s original Hero and Leander (printed by Adam Islip for Edward Blount in 1598). Sadly, Luna’s BookReader software seems a tad confused by image sets whose aspect ratios and canvas sizes vary as in this case, where we have reproduced each of twenty-five double-page spreads, and provided single separate shots of the front and back cover. We are continuing to investigate options for wrangling BookReader views from such variable image sets, but meanwhile are proceeding in such cases by linking from Hamnet to sets of thumbnails, with book contents sorted in order, as with this  full set of sorted digital images reproducing our earliest edition of Hero and Leander by Christopher Marlowe.

Note that if you drill down to a specific page in the sorted set you’ll be able to get to the next page through the mini thumbnail browser in the upper right of the screen:

Luna BookReader thumbnail view

Summing up

Want to know more about any of the above? You might start by reviewing this description of our Digital Image Collection, including “search tips,” and “how tos,” or by reviewing Luna Imaging’s tutorials for web Luna, and other related support documentation. Other questions can be addressed to insighthelp [at] folger [dot] edu, or posed in the comment section below.

Note also that we are continuing to create and link from Hamnet to Luna BookReader views (compound digital objects) and BookReader thumbnails (sorted sets of thumbnail images). If you’d like to follow along as the work progresses, search keyword “bookreader” in Hamnet to bring up bibliographic descriptions linked to full digital reproductions. And new cover-to-cover items will continue to be accessible as always through the Insight java client.

See you next time, when I hope to be sharing some thoughts and tips on the scintillating (but useful!) subject of “Static URLs.”



  • Jim, is there a way to search for all works that have been digitized cover-to-cover within the web interface for Luna? I know there must be, but I haven’t worked out what it is!

  • @RMW: You remind me that I have been unaccountably remiss: the *real* rock stars in all of this are our interns working on (among other worthy endeavors) the project of linking our bibliographic descriptions to digital surrogates. So let me give a shout out and thanks to this semester’s Hamnet > Luna linkers: Ashley Behringer, Rebecca Calcagno, Rebecca Hranj, Christine Parker … without whom, not! You’ll be hearing from some of them here on the Collation in the coming weeks.

    @SW: Great question. You’re right: a Digital Image Database keyword phrase search on “bookreader” will only at the moment yield eight hits … while a similar search in Hamnet at the moment yields 148 hits!

    How come?

    The technical answer lies in the difference between a static luna url that points to a single multi-page “BookReader view” digital object (to whose metadata a searchable “bookreader” keyword can be added) … and a static luna url that points to a set of search results (a set share-able via multiple thumbnails sorted in page-by-page order, but not a set that is itself a single searchable object).

    Hmm. Let me try a perhaps more useful answer: for now your most comprehensive results will be had by doing a Basic ‘Keyword Any Bib Field’ search in Hamnet for “bookreader”. Or you could do an Advanced search combining that keyword with your other keyword(s) of choice (e.g., Hamlet) using the “all of these” choice against “Keyword Any Bib Field”. … and following the links from records in the search results you end up with.

    Hope this helps!


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