Archive for the ‘Gale/Cengage’ Category

Trial Access for Burney Collection and Search Methods

August 12, 2009

Gale/Cengage has generously agreed to offer a free trial of the Burney Collection for readers of this blog at http://access.gale.com/emob.  This provides us with an opportunity for an open discussion of the Burney Collection’s merits, both as a scholarly resource and as a pedagogical tool. 

In preparation for the two sessions on digital text-bases, it would be interesting to hear more about how users search Burney.  Search results can be overwhelming and show the need for the Library of Congress cataloguing and classification system to help categorize and make sense of the wealth of data that emerges from any given search.  Thomas Mann, a Reference Librarian at the Library of Congress, has a still useful 2005 discussion on the limits of computerized searching for research at http://www.guild2910.org/searching.htm.  Mann’s site might be particularly helpful in discussing computerized searching with students.  His example is that the 11,000,000 results for the word “Afghanistan” are unclassified, whereas under the LC system, they are neatly parsed into “Antiquities,” “Bibliography,” “Biography,” “Boundaries,” Civilization,” and so forth.  So the argument in favor of LC classification and cataloguing is clear.

On the other hand, it would be foolish to overlook the value of non-classified search results.  Matthew’s p0st on machine reading makes clear the value of understanding more about what computers can do.  But searching Burney isn’t necessarily clear from the outset.  It would be very interesting to hear more about how individuals use search methods within ECCO, EEBO, and particularly Burney.  We are grateful to Gale/Cengage for making this collective review possible.

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Update on 18thConnect

July 25, 2009

Laura Mandell has placed on update on 18thConnect that indicates that an agreement has been reached for 18thConnect to work with Gale. There’s a recorded link to her ALA talk that is not opening for me as well as the following news about a grant the project has received from ICHASS:

18thConnect: From PDF Images to Clean Data Sets, led by the University of Illinois’ Robert Markley, will use supercomputer time to run a parallelized optical character recognition (OCR) program on pages of images of 18th century printed texts, made available through its collaboration with Gale Group. The resulting archive of machine-readable 18th-century texts in history, literature, art, the sciences, and the emerging social sciences will be accessible to scholars for faceted searching, automated semantic tagging, hand encoding of digital scholarly editions, and data mining. By converting a vast archive of images into machine-readable texts, this project will provide a model for adapting OCR programs to field-specific problems that must be solved in order to preserve the full range of our cultural heritage.

I am hoping that Laura and Bob may be able to tell us more.