The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Enter Miranda: the Folger’s new digital platform

Miranda illustrated by Robert Anning Bell

“Admired Miranda! Indeed the top of admiration, worth What’s dearest to the world!” William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (3.1.47-50)

Miranda's Homepage screenshot
Miranda’s home page offers a chance to search by format, genre, date ranges, or language.

The Folger Shakespeare Library is thrilled to announce the launch of the prototype for Miranda, our new digital platform. Over the next two years, Miranda will become the home for our digital collections, from book records to transcriptions, images, sound files, podcasts, videos, and datasets. This project is made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Folger currently shares a wealth of digital resources with the world, but finding them requires multiple searches. If you’re interested in performances of Twelfth Night, you might visit our YouTube page to look up videos. Or you could head to Luna, our image database to find pictures of costumes. Musicians might find descriptions of manuscript music for Twelfth Night in our finding aids. Researchers interested in its printed versions might check out our catalog, Hamnet, for relevant bibliographic information. Some of our digital materials are not currently visible at all, because we haven’t had an appropriate place to put them.

Miranda will be a place for us to host existing resources, but also a home for new items created by researchers and experts, such as databases and digital texts. When fully built, Miranda will make it easier to find our materials, whether you come directly to us or search through search engines like Google. You will be able to save your searches, download items, and curate your own personal collections.

A Prototype

Screenshot of Taming of Shrew silent moie
Video clips can be viewed directly in Miranda. The full site will eventually allow you to embed our media via WordPress plugins, making reuse easier.

Thanks to a 2016-2017 grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Folger has spent a year building a prototype version of Mirandaa small-scale version of what the full platform will become. This work allows us to experiment with a small subset of materials (approximately 1800 records) to figure out what we will need to do in order to build a digital home for all of the Folger’s materials.

You can visit the prototype to see what we’ve built: page through the fully digitized Susila-Birsimha, a Bengali rendering of Cymbeline by the older brother of Rabinadrath Tagore. Download images of the great Shakespearean actresses Ellen Terry and Maude Adams. Listen to historic Christmas Music, and watch selections from a silent film adaptation of Taming of the Shrew (1908). The prototype also holds the records for the Bagot collection, a selection of our manuscript cookbooks, and the infamous Shakespeare rubber duck, among other items. There are many features we have still to build and refine, as we add more content into the platform. (To paraphrase another Miranda, there’s a million things we haven’t done but just you wait. Just you wait.)

Miranda: The Tech Bit

F. H. Townsend illustration of Miranda and Prospero, from Art Box T747 no.13 (size L)
New API interfaces will allow programmers to do magic with our data.
  • Our new site, collections.folger.edu, will allow you to explore and discover our stuff.
  • Application Programing Interface (API) services allow and encourage other projects, whether at the Folger or elsewhere, to access Miranda’s collections. These will allow complex searching and filtering of data, as well as enable developers to know the type and structure of different kinds of content we’re making available.
  • A centralized repository for the widest possible range of the Folger’s digital stuff.
Robert Anning Bell illustration of Miranda, Folger Art Box B433 no.13 (size S)
We will continue experimenting with how Miranda can connect you with books (and other media) from the Folger.

We are building Miranda to be as accessible as possible, with open source software and modular digital architecture. By following common web standards, we will ensure that our digital resources are open to anyone interested in connecting to the platform. For example, Miranda will be compliant with the standards of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF), a community of the world’s leading research libraries and digital repositories which work together to make digital media more widely available and interoperable. The Folger joined the IIIF Consortium in 2017 as a Founding Member. (More information about the technology behind Miranda can be found in our developer portal.)

Looking Forward

All of this work is made possible by the Mellon Foundation, which has awarded a $1,055,000 grant to the trustees of Amherst College for the benefit of the Folger digital asset platform. This new grant will support two years of project development and add three new staff positions, foster new collaborations with scholars and other cultural institutions. It will, in short, transform access to the Folger’s collections for years to come.

The full Miranda will launch by fall 2018 and be completed by fall 2019. For now, come play with our prototype. It’s a brave new world.

3 Comments


    • Unfortunately, Disney beat us to the internet real estate on that one. We didn’t want to have to fight the mermaids for search results.

  • miranda may be one of the most important investments the Folger could make – providing open access to the digital assets of the Library will enable scholars and the merely curious to experience the library and its holdings in ways that go beyond direct physical access. Digital Humanities is a new buzzword but Miranda gives it concrete meaning.

    vint


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