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The digital transformation of the Folger Shakespeare Library

Knowledge within the reach of millions of users

The Client

Folger Shakespeare Library is home to the world´s largest repository on the life and works of William Shakespeare. The Folger collection has nearly 500,000 printed books, manuscripts, engravings, drawings, photographs, paintings and artworks.

The collection was made public to visitors, professors and students in the 1930s and is located one block away from the U.S Capitol in Washington D.C 

The Challenge

Enable online browsing of the largest collection of Shakespeare-related materials from the 16th Century to the present, including the collection of books, manuscripts, and Renaissance Europe paintings. 

In 2017, Folger relied on an internal consultation system which was over 50 years old and did not work online. The intention was to allow the public to access this repository digitally using open data, so third parties could use it and innovate, building platforms about Shakespeare’s creations.

The Solution

The agency Parsons TKO, Folger’s digital advisor, selected Aplyca to consult and do the project’s technical implementation. Taking Folger’s needs into account, we proposed:

  • A Digital Access Platform to provide public access to the collection through the Internet.
  • The migration of the digital catalog information from its base MARC 21 bibliographic data format. 
  • The release of the project source code under an open-source license (see Miranda DAP project on Github). 
  • A modern infrastructure platform that allows dynamic scalability of the application. 

Outstanding features:

  • Miranda, a Digital Asset Management platform for Open Source digital libraries.
  • Optimized interfaces for users to be able to zoom in and view the collection’s manuscripts, drawings, and illustrations in high detail using the IIIF - International Image Interoperability Framework ™
  • The creation of user profiles, log history, and bookmarks to improve user experience.
  • A content distribution network to optimize access to the information repository.
  • The implementation using the Symfony framework in PHP language to facilitate portability between infrastructure providers.
  • The adaptation of GraphQL to structure the data used by third parties and developers interested in innovation, based on Folger’s open technologies. 

The Results

The Folger Shakespeare Library took the important step of sharing its catalog digitally to a global audience. The library’s digital transformation allows millions of people to access the catalog through the Miranda platform

Users can look up:

  • Around 260,000 printed books.
  • Over 60,000 manuscripts.
  • Around 90,000 recordings, drawings, photographs, paintings and artworks.
 
260000
Printed books.
 
60000
Manuscripts
 
90000
Artworks
 

Folger Collection

Additionally, we provided an ecosystem which allows third parties to extract data and create new applications, thanks to the open standards policy. We offered our knowledge and experience in cloud solutions and software development, resulting in a reliable platform that users can now access from anywhere in the world.