The William Blake Archive is pleased to launch the virtual Lightbox, a major addition to the Archive’s array of digital tools. It replaces an earlier version discontinued in 2013 because of security issues. This entirely new Lightbox has been specially developed for the Archive by Tae Lerch of UNC’s Office of Arts & Sciences Information Services and Michael Fox, the Archive’s assistant editor, who has also implemented many new features in our Reading View and significant improvements to the Archive’s server and to its back end and interface. Together, these new tools and enhancements amount to a relaunching of the Blake Archive.

An “Add to Lightbox” button [  ] is available under an image in the Object View, above an image in the Reading View, and in the Preview box in the Search Results page. Clicking on it will store the image in the Lightbox, which can be opened via the icon for the Lightbox cart [] in the top right banner.
Users can add as many disparate images to the Lightbox as they want, before or after the Lightbox is initially launched; the Lightbox cart may be reset (emptied) at any time by clicking on the “x” at the top right of its icon. Images in the Lightbox can be moved, rotated, resized, and cropped, functions that enable users to curate, manipulate, and study images from Blake’s diverse works in ways never before possible. Moreover, users can save the state of their Lightbox session in a JSON file by clicking on the down arrow in the banner, or load a saved state by clicking on the up arrow. This save/load functionality enables users to leave and return to their work and to share their editable sessions with others simply by sharing the downloaded session file.
For a demonstration of the Lightbox, see the video in its Help [?] window.
The Archive’s server is now optimized with gzip compression, which makes accessing images, texts, and search results in the Archive much faster on current browsers than it was when we launched our redesign in December 2016. Our code has been completely refactored to make our rigorous publication process easier to manage.
The Archive offers a Gallery Mode [G] and a Reading Mode [R]. In the former, works open by default in an Object View. Users navigate right or left to examine one image at a time and scroll down to view related materials, information about the copy or work, and electronic edition information. The buttons below the image can rotate, magnify, or present the image at its true size or enlarged, and can view a diplomatic transcription of its text, which can also be popped up in the Information side bar on the left, along with a detailed description of the illustration and editors’ notes.
In Reading Mode, works open up by default in a Reading View, where the full critical apparatus from the Object View is now available and can be accessed through the icons displayed in a row at the top left corner of each image. The icons, reading left to right, refer to: Diplomatic Transcriptions [  ], Illustration Descriptions [  ], Editors’ Notes [  ], Add to Lightbox [  ], Objects from the Same Matrix [M], Objects from the Same Production Sequence [PS], Objects with a Similar Design [D], and Related Texts or Images [T]. In Reading View, users can opt to view Images Only—a format ideal for moving through many images quickly—and still select any part of the critical apparatus for any image. The Reading View also contains a Compare feature, which sets two copies of an illuminated book or series of prints (e. g., Songs copies B and E, or colored and uncolored copies of Night Thoughts) against each other in the scrollable row of images.
For a demonstration of the new features in the Reading View, see the video in its Help [?] window.
In both the Object View and Reading View, 100 DPI images are shown by default. Users may convert the images in place to 300 DPI by clicking on the button labeled “300 DPI”—ideal for projecting—under the banner.
As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the University of Rochester, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.
Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Joseph Fletcher, managing editor, Michael Fox, assistant editor
The William Blake Archive