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In partnership with Toura, the British Library is launching its first app, ‘Treasures’, for the iPhone, the iPad and Android, making it possible to visit our collections from anywhere in the world.
The app includes over 100 highlights from our collections, including literary, historical, music-related and scientific documents - alongside illuminated manuscripts and sacred texts. Each is presented through high-resolution images, allowing the viewer to zoom in and explore in extraordinary detail.
Literary highlights include Charles Dickens’s handwritten draft of Nicholas Nickleby and Jane Austen’s teenage writings, while key historical documents include 2000-year-old Oracle Bones from China, an original Magna Carta of 1215, Elizabeth I’s famous Tilbury speech before the Spanish Armada, and a recording of suffragette Christabel Pankhurst’s speech after her release from prison.
The section devoted to music includes manuscript scores from some of the best-known classical composers, such as Handel, Purcell, Mozart and Schubert, alongside calypso and traditional folk music. A section devoted to maps showcases some of the most interesting and beautiful maps and views from the collection.
Christian texts include the Codex Sinaiticus, the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Gutenberg Bible. Other faiths are represented by the Golden Haggadah, Sultan Baybars’ Qur’an, and Buddhist, Daoist, Hindu, Sikh and Zoroastrian manuscripts.
The scientific documents, which are generally less well-known, explore fields such as astronomy, botany, zoology and medicine. They include manuscripts, notebooks and letters that reveal some of the key scientific developments of all time, including Fleming’s discovery of penicillin, and Copernicus’s and Galileo’s findings on the structure of the cosmos.
Alongside these images, the app includes sound recordings and nearly 50 short videos, all WiFi-enabled. They include interviews with British Library curators, linguist David Crystal, and TV presenter and explorer Ben Fogle.
The app will be regularly updated with information on British Library exhibitions, highlighting some of the star items that will be on display. At the time of launching, the app includes information on ‘Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices'.