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The E-Sylum:  Volume 11, Number 14, April 6, 2008, Article 13

DIGITIZING BOOKS HELPS RESEARCHERS DO THEIR HOMEWORK

Dick Johnson writes: "Last week Editor Homren asked readers'
opinion of digitizing out-of-print published works.  It is
indeed the godsend he suggested. Even when you go to the
big box library or archives, the more you know in advance,
the more you will accomplish on site.  Do your homework first
before heading off for any research.

"This applies to that important background data that you
won't find in numismatic literature. Since so many items
we write about existed prior to any recent copyright
expirations, access to these publications is a tremendous
advantage. Research projects differ of course. Some are 90%
numismatic, 10% other. Some are only 10% numismatic --
where you know most everything about the items you are
researching -- but want that background data.  The 90% of
the information will come from printed and archive resources
not found in numismatic volumes. That would be the greatest
area where digitized books can be of extreme usefulness to
the numismatic researcher. You must do a lot of reading.

"In such research you will always, always! find leads to
another avenue that should be researched. Track down that
lead, but you must learn to channel your searching (or you
will spend a lifetime in one area). Concentrate your effort
on one topic at a time. Don't be sidetracked.

"Put your goal in words and write it down.  What specifically
are you seeking? Come up with as many keywords you can
think of that are appropriate. Let the librarian or archivist
know this in advance of your arrival.

"Know the Rule of Propinquity (nearness in time and place).
Where did the object or event take place and when? Always
keep this in mind.

"In your final writing you will want to answer every question
an intelligent reader might ask about your subject. Beat him
to it. Ask these questions yourself and seek the answers.

"In numismatics we do HISTORICAL RESEARCH (with a little
ART RESEARCH on the artists and the designs as well).  To
aid your historical research read "The Modern Researcher"
by Jacques Barzun, any edition (latest: 6th edition, 2004).
This book will hone your research methods and give you great
background information. I am always inspired after rereading
this book.

"Also peruse (skim if you must) "A Guide to Historical Method"
by Gilbert J. Garraghan. This book was mandatory two decades
ago (before the Internet), but it will guide you in your
search today.

"So digitizing will supply us with the published information
of the past that we can obtain at home. Read these before you
go to the big box libraries and archives. But you must do both.
Let editor Homren know how you are doing.  Good Luck!"

Former American Numismatic Association Librarian Nancy Green
writes: "I must comment on John Nebel's input of last week.
He is absolutely right, the Kirtas book scanner would be
wonderful for ANA's Dwight Manley Library but as always the
stumbling block (aside from the $150,000 cost of the machine)
is the cost of personnel to run the machine.

"Books as tools for research are, to a large extent, being
replaced by content on the Internet, although I think the
main value of the web is to locate information, not necessarily
get it directly. The value of the Internet is incredible and
will only increase. But books will never be replaced by
anything more beautiful or functional.

"The physics of the book is a wonderful thing and when the
power goes out or your battery fails, nothing is better than
a book and a candle. I don't believe there is any laptop that
can match the aesthetics of a beautiful book. Most of us have
been through the technology of Beta and 8-track. And who can
forget 78s and 45s. Media in these formats is now pretty much
unusable but books remain, and even damaged, can provide
extensive information and enjoyment."

[Nancy is absolutely right.  As she, Dave Bowers and others
rightfully point out, electronic media changes quickly with
the times and quickly becomes outmoded.  Transferring knowledge
from one format to another is always a quandary.  While digitizing
books for easier access is great, the institutions should NEVER
dispose of the original source material, although of course
many do so anyway.  -Editor]

 PUBLIC DOMAIN NUMISMATIC BOOK PUBLISHING EXPERIMENT
 esylum_v11n13a11.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

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