“Admired Miranda! Indeed the top of admiration, worth What’s dearest to the world!” William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (3.1.47-50)
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.
Thanks to a 2016-2017 grant from the Mellon Foundation, the Folger has spent a year building a prototype version of Miranda—a 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
- 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.
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.)
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.