The NY Public Library's Digital Gallery
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Once you've descended a level or two into the site, you'll be presented with a grid of thumbnail images, each with a cataloging ID number (the most direct way to get back to that specific item at a later date) and a link to "View Image Details." This next step opens a mid-sized copy of the selected artifact along with detailed information (much of which contains links to related items elsewhere on the site), and a very nice "Search For More Images"drop box." (I don't know if such a term exists in the web design lexicon, but you'll see what I mean at the site.)
Below each thumbnail, a varying collection of links displays the options available for each file - options which will always include a "Printer Friendly" version of the page, and an enlarged (760 pixels on the longer side) copy of the image which opens into a new window. (You won't be making any 16 x 20s out of these free files, but they're large enough for a good on-screen perusal or a small print.)
Other options may or may not appear on a given page depending on the artifact being viewed. Two-sided items (such as Baseball cards) will have a "View Verso" button, while single pages of larger publications (e.g., restaurant menus) will include the chance to view the entire set in a single frame. A few items (well, "a few" when compared to a collection of 275,000), such as the Japanese woodcut featured on the site's home page, will also offer a "Pan and Zoom" option for detailed inspection of the artifact.
The only complaint that comes to mind (other than my admittedly unreasonable desire for free and instant access to high-resolution files) centers on the fact that the title bar - and corresponding browser tab - of every page in the site is identical, i.e., "NYPL Digital Gallery."
When you've got a half dozen or more Tabs open in your browser, and every one of them says NYPL Digital Gallery (even those for the About and FAQ pages), it leads to a lot of unnecessary flipping through windows to find the image you know you've got open there somewhere. Even substituting the first few words of every page's "Source" description in the title bar would be of enormous help.
That criticism aside, this is a staggering collection with navigational options that are more than up to the task. Once again the web makes accessible to millions artifacts that previously were only available to a relative handful, and with the strengths of this production, it's not even remotely surprising that the Library was forced to enhance the site's serving capacity.
The NYPL Digital Gallery can be found at http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/.