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Manchester opens historic collections to global audience with new platform

30 Jan 2020

Our University has launched an innovative new digital platform, which allows a global audience to view our vast collection of historic publications

Manchester Digital Collections

Manchester Digital Collections Viewer is a platform which enables people to explore high-quality images of cultural collections and research projects at the University. It gives users enhanced viewing of images accompanied by text, audio and video content, enabling academics to curate digital editions of documents and other content to bring their research to a wider audience.

It has been achieved by a genuinely ground-breaking partnership between the universities of Manchester and Cambridge, and by colleagues from both institutions drawn from academic departments, IT services and from both libraries. Manchester Digital Collections is the product of expertise and innovation between two world-class universities and two of the acknowledged great libraries of the world.

The launch on Tuesday, 28 January at the Whitworth Hall was well attended, with key speakers including President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Nancy Rothwell, John Rylands University Librarian and Director of The University of Manchester Library, Chris Pressler, Vice-President for Social Responsibility Nalin Thakker and Senior Lecturer in Italian Studies and project lead, Dr Guyda Armstrong.

The key speakers shared insights as to how the Digital Collections Viewer will support our University's aims for education and the community. Attendees were given the opportunity to try it out for themselves.

Dr Armstrong, Faculty Lead for Digital Humanities and Director of the new Centre in Digital Humanities, has been leading the project in collaboration with Cambridge University Library and colleagues from Creative Manchester, The University of Manchester Library, the John Rylands Research Institute, IT Services and academics from the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures.

“The new digital collections image viewer will transform the way researchers, students, and audiences worldwide can engage with the spectacular collections of the University, and we’re delighted to have been able to celebrate the work of all those who have worked on it, and to showcase this magnificent new resource to colleagues at our launch,” said Dr Armstrong.

Chris Pressler said: “The Manchester Digital Collections programme of work is one of the most significant technology shifts for our special collections in recent years. Libraries have a long and distinguished professional ethos of partnership, openness and collaboration, and with the support and guidance of fellow experts in the field we have been able to create something special that will transform the discovery of and encounters with many remarkable collections."

The Peterloo Collection was the first to be launched on 29 October, this was followed by the Latin Collection on 19 November and Petrarch Collection on 10 December. More collections have now been added including Latin Manuscripts, Maps, Hebrew Manuscripts, Persian Manuscripts and Petrarch.