Google Books Award: ESTC Receives Digital Humanities Grant


Posted on behalf of Brian Geiger, University of California, Riverside.

Brian reports:

I’m pleased to announce that Ben Pauley and I have received one of twelve inaugural Google Digital Humanities grants to match pre-1801 items in Google Books to the ESTC. The official announcement was made last week. You can read more about the grant at Inside HigherEd.

Our plan is to match as much as we can through computer matching, putting urls for Google Books in appropriate ESTC records and providing Google with ESTC ids and metadata. We don’t know for sure, but estimate that there will be between 100,000 and 200,000 ESTC-related items in Google Books. Based on matching that the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR) has done of records from electronic library catalogs, we should be able to computer match up to 50% of the Google records. This number could be lower than usual, however, given the truncated nature of much of the Google metadata.

The remaining 50% or so of the records we hope to put in a version of Ben’s Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker and make publicly accessible for users to help with the matching. For those of you teaching bibliography or bibliographically-minded courses next year, this could be a wonderful teaching tool, allowing your students to struggle with the complexities of early modern bibliography and learn first-hand its importance for understanding the history of the book.

We’ll update this blog about our progress with the Google Books metadata and hope to have a version of the Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker ready for use by the end of the fall or early spring.


7 Responses to “Google Books Award: ESTC Receives Digital Humanities Grant”

  1. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Brian and Ben,

    Huge congratulations for the receipt of one of Google Books’s inaugural. digital humanities grants. The project is much needed, and early modern scholars, especially those working in the long eighteenth century, will benefit immensely from your project. Readers of Early Modern Online Bibliography blog look forward to hearing more as you progress with your work.

    For those interested in seeing the complete list of the twelve-winning projects, see the announcement on the Google Research blog.


  2. Dave Mazella Says:

    This is fantastic news, and I hope long 18th scholars and teachers take up Ben’s and Brian’s call to start using Book Tracker in their courses.


  3. George Says:

    This is fantastic news! Congratulations, Brian & Ben!


  4. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Let me second Dave’s hope about the integration of Book Tracker in courses I suspect that once scholars and instructors learn of this tool, it will get heavy use. Plus, I could see some interesting comparative exercises for those who are also fortunate to have access to ECCO.

    On a different note, this project seems to have at least two broader lessons for us. For one, it underscores the necessity for some training at the graduate level (if not also at the undergrad level) in both descriptive bibliography and digital resources. Secondly, it also is an instructive case of making one’s present situation better rather than dwelling on the negative state of affairs. Ben lacked access to ECCO and the like at his institution, so he investigated how he could work around this problem, and the Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker was born. Many have complained and dismissed Google Books for its poor metadata. Yet, Brian and Ben both looked forward and considered ways to make this massive digitization that Google had done and is continuing to do more useful to scholars.


  5. Anna Battigelli Says:

    Congratulations! It’s nice to see ingenuity rewarded!!


  6. Apologie pour l’usage de l’empreinte. 5. Conclusion « À la Toison d’or Says:

    […] de très près aux bibliographies nationales rétrospectives et si cette entreprise a accordé son « Google Digital Humanities grants » à l’ESTC, bibliographies des ouvrages anglophones […]


  7. Digital Projects at SHARP 2015–Part I | Early Modern Online Bibliography Says:

    […] an aside, Benjamin Pauley’s Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker (see prior emob post, post, and post) is now being phased out, and its information being incorporated into the English Short Title […]


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