beach photographer ca. 1890 (National Media Museum, via flickr commons)
Some days you wake up and you see announcements of a new project to digitize a collection of primary source materials. Perhaps an archive that covers centuries of technological and commercial changes, perhaps a collection of newspapers that encompasses the history of African-American politics and culture, just to name a couple of purely hypothetical examples.
I don’t know any details about such agreements and neither do you, unless you happen to be one of the top-level executives at one of the holding institutions for these collections or at one of the companies doing the digitization. And because we don’t know any details, we don’t know whether such projects are great or not. But we can—and we should—ask some questions when we hear about them:
- Who financially benefits from such agreements? It is certainly the company doing the digitization and the institution holding the documents, otherwise neither would be doing it.
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the verso of John Starkey’s bookseller’s advertisement in the back of John Dancer’s translation of Tasso’s Aminta (London, 1660; Folger Shakespeare Library, T172)
I have a lot of pictures of this book. I’ll write something at some point, when I have the time. But for now: look. It’s lovely. § continue reading →
I’ve written about digitizing Shakespeare’s First Folio before, looking at the interfaces of the many different copies out there. But I’m turning my attention to this again for my contribution on the subject for the in-progress Cambridge Companion to the First Folio, edited by Emma Smith. In my article, I’ll be thinking about why there are so many libraries digitizing this same book over and over again and what these many projects can teach us about what we look for from the First Folio and from digital tools.
But to do that, I revisited the 13—!!!!—digitized copies currently out there on the interwebs and created a list identifying each copy and its various relevant features for both the interface and the book itself. Some exciting news since I last looked: Miami has reimaged theirs, created a new interface, and released the images as public domain! Bodleain’s already awesome F1 got even awesomer with the addition of XML. § continue reading →
I just got back from a wonderful trip to Rare Book School to deliver a talk in their 2015 lecture series. It was the last week of their summer season in Charlottesville, the week when the Descriptive Bibliography course (aka “boot camp”) was in full swing, and the weather was in all its hot, glorious humidity. I wanted to keep things light as well as make some points I feel very strongly about: the importance of librarians and researchers using social media to help sustain special collections libraries.
Below are the slides and my notes for my July 29th talk. Since RBS records and shares the audio of their talks (go browse through past RBS lectures and listen!) I have, with their permission, also embedded the audio of my talk here so that you can listen and read along if you’d like (there are some variations between the two, though nothing substantive—I’ll leave you to decide which is the authoritative version…). § continue reading →
Sometimes you look around at what you’re doing and you realize that it’s time to do something else. For me, that time is now: I’ve left my job at the Folger.
For the immediate future, I’ll be concentrating on writing A Handbook for Studying Early Printed Books, 1450–1800, which is under contract with Wiley Blackwell. The book is intended to introduce undergraduate and early graduate students—and everyone else!—to how hand-press books were made and to working with them, whether in your hands or on screen. Those of you who have been relying on Philip Gaskell’s wonderful but dense A New Introduction to Bibliography will find A Handbook a more accessible introduction in the classroom. And those of you who know nothing about early modern bibliography and have no idea why you’d want to teach it will become converts to the joys of the subject.
Along with writing A Handbook, I’ll be developing an open-access website with lots of images of early printed books so that readers without readily available special collections can start to learn what such books look like. § continue reading →
Sometimes I give talks about the challenges and opportunities for digitizing early printed books. I prefer to do this by looking at lots of different examples, including lots of different reproductions of different copies of the same book or different reproductions of the same copy of a single book. I keep a periodically updated list of these things to draw from when I’m teaching, and I thought some of you might like to draw on it as well. It’s a page of links rather than notes on my thoughts on the subject, but in some cases, they’re books I’ve written about before and I link to those pieces.
In any case, I hope you find my digitization examples useful, and in turn, I’d love to hear from you if you have other fruitful examples that will help us think about the subject. It’s always incredibly fun for me to talk with folks about this stuff, so if you’d like a live demonstration, I do take requests! § continue reading →