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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 45, November 4, 2007, Article 12

NEW YORKER ARTICLE ON ELECTRONIC LIBRARIES

Arthur Shippee writes: "The current New Yorker has an
article on digitizing libraries; on their site, they
have this brief over-view of on-line libraries and archives.
The version on the site has hot links to all these named
places.  It looks to be very helpful."

[Below are a few excerpts from the article.  Numismatic
researchers gain more and more online resources every as
more material enters the digital world.  -Editor]

Many roads lead to the real—and utopian—digital collections
that are taking shape across the Web. One might start with
the biggest: Google is launching Partners Program and the
Library Project; Microsoft has begun Live Search Books
Publisher Program; and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
rolls out a colorful guide to its Gallica project. But it’s
also worthwhile to stop by some older efforts, such as
Project Gutenberg, which offers a vast range of information
about collateral projects, e-book readers, and more. At
the Internet Archive, you’ll find an eclectic electronic
bazaar where you can listen to Phil Lesh or Matisyahu,
watch classic Betty Boop cartoons, or read the original
manuscript that became “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
The archive also sponsors the Open Library, an idealistic
and elegant effort “to get catalog information for every
book” in the world, to be compiled on a wiki, with the
help of readers.

Historical documents are also crowding onto the Web, as
national archives around the world digitize large parts of
their holdings. Historians interested in Spain’s obsessively
self-documenting monarchy, for example, can read thousands
of documents from the Archive of the Indies and other
collections on official Web sites or, in some cases, computers
set up at the archives themselves. Nowadays, a historian
can create his or her own archive, thanks to the digital
camera, and many libraries and archives encourage readers
do so. At the British National Archives at Kew, you’ll see
ranks of historians clicking away, making sharp digital
images that they will study at home. As documents are
reproduced in shoals, it becomes harder by the day to
discover what’s out there before you duplicate someone
else’s effort.

One of the best ways to get a handle on the sprawling
world of digital sources is through George Mason University’s
Center for History and New Media, which was created in 1994
and run for many years by the late Roy Rosenzweig. This
site will teach you about doing and using digital history,
and lead you to the richest sites on the French Revolution,
September 11th, and Jamestown, as well as to a digital
re-creation of P. T. Barnum’s American Museum, hosted by
the American Social History Project/Center for Media and
Learning, at the City University of New York. It soon becomes
clear that the digital world has already become a Land of
Cockaigne for scholars—a place where we can lie down and
feed ourselves all day without needing to move, and where
the main danger is of bursting.

But many questions remain. Some months ago, I worked with
a group of historians, supported by the Centre for History
and Economics, at Harvard and King’s College, Cambridge,
who are investigating the impact of digital history on
libraries and archives around the world. The group’s notes
are beginning to appear online. For now, however, the best
way to get a sense of how scholars and librarians are
struggling to sort the gold of the new projects from the
pyrites is to visit some of the blogs run by experts. See,
for instance, the historian Robert Townsend’s post “Google
Books: What’s Not to Like?,” and the discussion it sparked.

To read the complete article, see:
Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

Google
 
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