Uncovering online treasures

Uncovering online treasures McGill University

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McGill Reporter
January 11, 2007 - Volume 39 Number 09
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Home > McGill Reporter > Volume 39: 2006-2007 > January 11, 2007 > Uncovering online treasures

McGill web gems

Uncovering online treasures

It's hard to believe that the McGill website has only existed for just over a decade. Imagine: There were no online staff directories, no web-based application forms, no instantly available syllabuses or library catalogues you could consult from your dorm at 3:30 a.m., and no downloadable MP3's or videos of the classes you missed.

Things have changed a lot. The McGill website (which for our purposes includes the sites of affiliated institutions like the McGill University Health Centre) is now so vast that no one can know all of it. It hides vast labyrinths of lost corridors, forgotten pathways and secret treasures. Are you bold enough to put on your virtual pith helmet and explore it with us?

Children's books of the early Soviet era


This is a fabulous (and slightly surreal) look at Soviet children's literature published in the 1920's and 30's, the web version of a real-world exhibition hosted by McGill's Rare Books and Special Collections Division way back in 1998. There are gorgeous colour reproductions of book covers and interiors, plus an introduction, a historical overview and a great navigation bar which divides the site into themes, including: "In the animal world," "Pioneers," "Agit-Prop" and "Soviet North." Like similar items from Nazi Germany that surface from time to time, what's really jarring about children's literature from totalitarian cultures is the casual, offhand way fuzzy bunnies and evil propaganda are counterpointed on the same page. That said, most of these books are truly beautiful to look at, ideology or no ideology, and they provide a fascinating window on a lost time and place.

McCord Museum


The McCord Museum's website is a technological marvel and an artistic tour-de-force. In the future, we'll look at individual exhibitions and virtual tours within the site, but this time we're taking the global view. There are dozens of web-based collections and exhibitions to explore, including Painting, Prints and Drawings with over 27,000 online items; the Notman Photographic Archive with more than 76,000 searchable online photos; and the Textual Archive with over 500 manuscripts, greeting cards, letters and other historical Canadian documents from the 18th Century to the present. The site is well-designed, easy to navigate and chock full of cool extras you wouldn't normally expect on a museum site, such as a permanent personal folder where you can squirrel away items that interest you and an e-card service that allows you to turn almost any piece in the McCord collection into an online greeting card.

Do you have a favourite McGill website mystery place? Please send it to mark.shainblum@mcgill.ca.

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