Archive for December 3rd, 2009

A Message from ASECS President, Peter Reill

December 3, 2009

[h/t: C18-L; x-posted on The Long Eighteenth]

[Hi everyone, I don't mean to hijack discussion, but I thought this message from Peter Reill was extremely relevant to the conversations we've been having here and on the Long 18th about the digital divide and the problems of unequal access to scholarly resources.  If you feel strongly about this, please contact Peter at the email address listed below.  Best, DM]

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing to ask for you help and guidance concerning an issue that is becoming increasingly important as the digital revolution in scholarship gathers momentum. I have been asked to attend a meeting hosted by the Mellon Foundation that addresses the question of the increasingly unequal access of scholars to digital resource databases that are critical to pursuing research in their fields. I have become more aware of this problem after a meeting of the ISECS executive meeting where our Japanese colleagues asked for help to access ECCO. And the more I talk with people newly hired at universities or colleges unable to afford the fees charged by specialist databases the more important this issue has become for me. As I ponder the implications of this tendency, it is clear that it’s solution is even  more crucial for recent graduates who have yet to get a permanent position and independent scholars who cannot afford to subscribe to specialist databases.

It is a problem very few address. The Mellon meeting, which will be held in February asks us, members of societies “focused on clearly delineated areas and primarily concerned with advancing scholarship in their fields” to answer a number of queries that are both scholarly and organizational in character. I hope that those of you concerned with these issues would send me your thoughts about them. It is my plan to propose your ideas that I will outline in the next Newsletter, which will appear before the meeting, giving you another chance to express you views on the subject and any others relevant to the issue.

The questions the Mellon proposes are: “How important is access to commercial databases to scholars in your field, and how are scholars’
careers affected when they are at institutions that do not subscribe to those resources? Which databases are likely to be of greatest value to the broadest segment of your membership? How well situated is your society to serve as a conduit to these resources, and what would be required to make that possible?”

Are these questions sufficient? Are there any more issues I should be raising? What kinds of solutions do you propose?

I look forward to your responses and to using them to highlight an important issue for all of us.

Yours,

Peter

My email address is;

reill@humnet.ucla.edu

Text Creation Partnership (Redesigned Website)

December 3, 2009

The Text Creation Partnership (TCP) at the University of Michigan has recently launched its redesigned website. As its name suggests, TCP fosters collaborative efforts to create “accurately keyboarded and encoded editions of thousands of culturally significant works in all fields of scholarly and artistic endeavor.” That TCP works together with both the international library community and commercial publishers of scholarly electronic is one of its defining strengths. It is concerned not only with creating electronic texts in formats that keep pace with shifting technological changes but also with promoting access to texts. Its partnership projects with EEBO, ECCO, and Evans illustrate these commitments. Over 25,000 EEBO texts have already been encoded, and these texts will become part of the public domain on January 1, 2015. Aaron McCollough, Text Creation Partnership Project Outreach Librarian, has commented on this forthcoming access to these EEBO-TCP texts and also provided an example of what such access may look like in a recent comment to an earlier emob posting.

Among the features of TCP’s redesigned website that Aaron announced on the SHARP-L listserv, the following should especially interest readers of emob:

* regularly updated TCP “spotlights” on project milestones and related projects in research and scholarly application

* reviews of recently encoded texts

* fun with early modern print

As McCollough noted in his announcement, “we aim for it to be a place of encounter between students and scholars working in Early Modern fields of study, especially those interested in the role of digital archives in those fields.”

One can also follow TCP developments on the TCP News & Views blog. One of the recent announcements here and on the TCP website alerts users to the newly created The EEBO Introduction Series. This series provides bibliographical, contextual information, and more for less well-known early modern texts. Ten editions are now available, but access to them does require a subscription to EEBO.


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