Why an article about a children’s book site? When I first came across the International Children’s Digital Library (ICDL), it immediately struck me as being visually elegant, but could I justify putting it on an academic blog site? The more I thought about it, though, the more it seems very much on target — The theme of this blog is the digitization of pictures, including especially pictures in books. Another theme is that in mass digitization projects, the main concern seems to be text, and that pictures are often overlooked. So, yes, ICDL, with its elegant presentation of pictures and text, is right on target. … And then, of course, finding ICDL in Google as a prime example of a “digital library” seals the deal!

ICDL has many excellent features as a children’s book site e.g. its novel ways to find books, by color, theme, etc and its inclusion of books in a wealth of languages. The aspect of ICDL that I’ll highlight briefly here though, that can serve as a model for any site with illustrated books, is its polished delivery of text and pictures, featured especially in the Book Overview screen, shown below.

Book Overview: Calling the doves = El canto de las palomas

The Mouse-over Preview, that shows an enlarged version of a the thumbnail as the user holds the mouse pointer over it, makes this screen especially effective. To see the nice touches at work here, try changing the window size — As the window is made smaller, the thumbnails also become smaller, so that all of them remain visible. And, even better, the mouse-over preview window does NOT shrink, keeping the same size no matter how small the thumbnails become.

Though ICDL lacks some features of a full-fledged enterprise book-viewing system (text is not available as text), its innovative presentation of book pages serves to show how far existing systems have to go in presenting books with pictures — There’s just no substitute for displaying small versions of the book’s pages that show the pictures and how they relate to the text, and ICDL is a model of how to do this.

ICDL has its roots at the University of Maryland; it’s now run by the ICDL Foundation. It’s written in Java. For more technical details, see paper by ICDL authors.

University of Utah has long been a pioneer in the digitization of medical visual resources, under the leadership of the Eccles Health Sciences library. Utah is especially notable for the wide variety of its resources, with strong collections in several basic biomedical and clinical areas.

Most of the Eccles digital image collections are listed on the Digital Collections page, although they’re mixed in with resources from other sites around the US, and sometimes difficult to identify as having been developed at Utah. Several of the Utah collections are described below.

NOVEL is the Neuro-Ophthalmology Virtual Education Library. This collaborative effort between Eccles Library and the North American Neuro-Ophthalmology Society (NANOS), brings together 11 collections of visual resources from personal working in the discipline around the US.

NOVEL is the only one of the Utah segments that uses the ContentDM digital collection management system. ContentDM is widely used by libraries in the US for historical/archival subjects, but for some reason it’s rarely used for biomedical or scientific subjects. The NOVEL project is notable because it’s one of the few sites anywhere that does this.

In addition to pictures, some of the collections in NOVEL also have videos. A good example of this is the collection of Shirley H. Wray, from Harvard Medical School — See link below for Nerve Palsy.


WebPath, the Internet Pathology Laboratory for Medical Education, includes over 1900 pictures along with text and tutorials. It was developed by Edward C. Klatt MD in the Pathology Dept at Utah; Klatt is now on the faculty at Florida State University. The heart of the WebPath collection for disease-specific pictures is in the Systematic Pathology section, which has images broken down by organ system.

Notable in the Knowledge Weavers section of the Eccles site is the Dermatology Image Bank, done in collaboration with dermatologist John L. Bezzant. This contains striking dermatologic pictures, which are often found by Google Image Search. Knowledge Weavers also includes well-known sites such as Slice of Life and HEAL.

medicalgenetics_20.JPG Another interesting digital resource at Utah, which is not associated with the library, is pictures from the prominent medical textbook, Medical Genetics (lead author Lynn Jorde, published by Mosby). This site also includes some pictures from WebPath. medicalgenetics_twins_65.JPG