Virtual Tour – British Library

An email from the British Library exhorting me to:

Email from British Library

So I did. And what did I find?

A dullish page, but with hopefully many delights hidden in the links.

I began with an exploration of the architecture, which was just a bit of text with a few images. And, much to my delight a whopping typo when referring to the wrong Gilbert Scott as inspiration to the architect, Colin St John Wilson. 4 out of 10, I fear.

I then took a safe bet to look at the Virtual Books. I have long admired the ability to look through the books in the Treasures Gallery in digital form – mostly looking at the Lindisfarne Gospel, Leonardo Da Vinca, and Alice. So, I clicked the link, to another surprisingly dull page with only 6 books to excite. But I knew there must be more, and to the top right was a link to ‘View All‘. Clicking this revealed some of the wonders of the world of books; from a Ethiopian Bible, to Lewis Carroll’s handwritten Alice’s Adventures Underground to works by Jane Austen. Each one in blazing colour and which the visitor can zoom in on and thumb through.

Beautiful and I chose a Psalter that is annotated by Henry VIII’s himself. Wow!

Virtual Henry

Why, I wonder, do the British Library make so little of it? I only got to it as i knew that had it. Most would pass by.

This gets a 10 out of 10 for awe-inspiring content, and a 3 for hiding its light under a bushel.

Next, I was excited to see a exhortation to ‘Visit an Online Exhibition.‘ This was what I had come here for. Really, excited. When I got there, there were 44! I was really looking forward to this.

But they were not exhibitions, they were a series of articles and blog posts. All very interesting, and all illustrated with lots of images of beautiful objects. But in no-way an online exhibition.

So very disappointed.

Overall, the British Library web site has some absolutely marvellous stuff. But its not really digital, its just online. There is no feeling of a digital experience, digital content yes, a digital experience. no.

It should be a 10 out of 10, and it is for content but for a digital experience, I’m hard pressed to give it a 6.