Just as we hope many on-site exhibit visitors may end up exploring actual primary source materials in the Roller Reading Room, so we hope that many off-site exhibit participants may end up exploring actual primary source materials in the Galileo's World Digital Library. Each of the 350 books described in the iBook Exhibit Guide and displayed during the Galileo's World exhibition is being digitized. If it's displayed, it's digitized. Every book will be available in high resolution to support various uses ranging from the careful scrutiny of fine details to the creation of print-quality posters. We are placing all images in the public domain for free download, with no copyright or licensing restrictions.
The Galileo's World Digital Library is currently in beta form at repository.ou.edu. Look for additional books and user-friendly features to appear on this site regularly during calendar year 2017.
The Digital Library completes a three-step journey of virtual exploration and discovery:
- Discovery: Visit the Exhibit (galileo.ou.edu)
- Exploration: Browse the Exhibit Guide to dive deeper into any aspect of the exhibit
- Research: Examine the original books (Reading Room, Digital Library)
Exhibitions in a research library reflect a distinctive modality we call "Museum plus..." The Exhibit Hall (step #1) does not stand on its own, but leads to the Reading Room (step #3). Every feature of the exhibition was designed from the start with an eye toward encouraging visitors to begin a path of discovery and exploration. This journey leads, almost insensibly, to research. Exhibitions break down the barriers of intimidation that threaten to overwhelm a beginner. All research begins with a sense of wonder and curiosity, which exhibitions awaken. To initiate this journey of exploration and discovery means that Library exhibits and the kind of reading room support traditionally offered by special collections converge by design and are mutually reinforcing in actual practice. Library exhibitions are the wide end of a funnel, eventually resulting in entry, for many visitors, into the reading room (the thin end of the funnel), even for those who least expected it when they began. An initial visit to the Exhibition may lead to subsequent visits, diving a little deeper with the Exhibit Guide, which in turn may lead to reading in the original books themselves. With the Digital Library, this path of discovery is as likely to occur in the virtual realm as in the physical.