Friday, June 25, 2010

From Partition to Direct Rule: 50 Years of Northern Ireland Parliamentary Debates Online

The Stormont Papers is a particularly useful site for historians of Britain and Ireland. Entitled "From Partition to Direct Rule: 50 Years of Northern Ireland Parliamentary Debates Online" the website offers access to the Parliamentary Debates of the devolved government of Northern Ireland from June 7 1921 to the dissolution of Parliament in March 28 1972. Consisting of about 92,000 printed pages (74 million words) the site is fully open access.

One may search either the full text using specific keywords, browse particular debates according to the combined subject index, or simply view the volumes.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Large Gift Will Speed Digitization at Oxford's Bodleian Libraries

News item from Ian Wilhelm in yesterday's Chronicle of Higher Education:
A British philanthropist has given $2.2-million to the University of Oxford's Bodleian Libraries to expand efforts to digitize their vast collection of books and manuscripts.

The gift, by the businessman Leonard S. Polonsky, will help pay for a new digital-imaging studio as part of a $115.6-million renovation of the New Bodleian Library, which will be known as the Weston Library upon reopening in a few years. The facility will be used to scan and make available online Oxford's most valuable and fragile documents and publications.

In addition, the donation will support the Bodleian's current efforts to digitize materials that promote interdisciplinary research and scholarship. For example, in 2010 and 2011 the library system plans to digitize Oxford theses and rare Islamic and Jewish manuscripts.

The money will help the Bodleian give humanities scholars and other academics greater access to its 11-million volume collection, only a "small fraction" of which has been digitized so far, said Sarah E. Thomas, the institution's librarian.

Mr. Polonsky, an alumnus of Oxford's Lincoln College, made a similar gift this month to the Cambridge University Library. The donor, who is executive chairman of Hansard Global, a financial-services company, said in a written statement that being part of a sea change in how a library operates was "exhilarating."

"Our inherited notions of 'library'—its architecture, scale, content, and services—will undergo quite extraordinary change over the coming years as digitization extends its impact," he said.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Open Access: Wittgenstein Archives

The Wittgenstein Archives at The University of Bergen recently provided free access to a large body of Wittgenstein primary sources, including the Bergen Facsimile Edition (BFE) and the Bergen Text Edition (BTE) of 5000 pages of Wittgenstein's Nachlass. Access is

Portico Announces It Has Reached a Milestone

In the past when print was the only form of publication, scholars would assume that the products of their work would live long lives on library shelves as books and journal articles. In today's publishing environment where electronic publications are proliferating, scholars may have serious doubts about the longevity of their work if they publish on the web. In an effort to address their concerns, several digital preservation projects have been developed in recent years. One of the most important is Portico. This means that the library's e-journals produced by publishers signed up with Portico will remain available to future researchers regardless of changes in technology. A recent announcement from Portico administrators provides some numbers that give an idea of how far Portico has progressed:
Portico is pleased to announce that 110 publishers, representing more than 2,000 professional and scholarly societies, are now participating in the Portico archive. Furthermore, nearly 15 million articles are now safely preserved in the Portico archive. "These are significant milestones for Portico and this substantial growth in a short period of time underscores the importance of digital preservation, and the commitment of the hundreds of Portico's participating libraries and publishers to ensuring long-term access to scholarly content," said Eileen Fenton, Portico's Managing Director.