Category Archives: Digitization

A Poem’s Proof of Aural Power

WEST MOUNTAIN EPILOGUE A READING BY JAY PARINI FROM HIS NEW AND COLLECTED POEMS: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini | Read by Jay Parini Beacon Press | Unabridged Selections, Beacon Press

Thanks to both document digitization and audio recording, we can engage both eyes and ears in extending the life of the oldest English language poem extant. The British Library’s digitization of an early manuscript copy of Beowulf (which, of course, is an epic predating its inscription) is cataloged to include its physical properties as well as presented in full color(s) on screen. As a thousand-year-old document, it looks admirable and the description of its fiber content also provides suggestions of both scent and touch sensations.

Arthur Bahr, MIT Old English assistant professor, reads the first 12 lines in Beowulf’s original here. As this was recorded on video, with the camera directed at Bahr, the disconnect between the aural and visual presentation of a t-shirted and most definitely 21st century man serves to demonstrate how the power of listening alone can allow the reader to be more deeply absorbed than when they are confronted by sight as well as sound. Humans, at the norm, depend on eyesight as our primary means of information gathering. However, when we deploy our eyes while trying to listen, we are, indeed, less likely to hear all that we can when we stop looking.

ELECTRIC ARCHES by Eve L. Ewing | Read by Eve L. Ewing Haymarket Books | Unabridged, Haymarket Books

While many Westerners accompany any listening they do with visual stimulus (either from the same source, as in video, or through multitasking), the true power of what we can hear–and feel and think based on hearing alone–can be revealed when we don’t look. Pull up some poetry  and spend an hour listening with your eyes closed. The link immediately above offers reviews of possibilities ranging from classic to contemporary, collections of verse and novels in verse. Whatever you choose, let your ears have your full attention.

Atlas Obscura highlights top digitization projects of 2017

Great post on Atlas Obscura on some of the best digitization projects—i.e., “amazing archival treasures” digitized in 2017—some unveiled for the first time this year, others expanded significantly with new content—including:

Read the full article for more information on each institution’s digitization efforts and growth in 2017 here.

Thousands of images from Gabriel García Márquez Archive Now Online via University of Texas at Austin

Most important part first: view the images here. The Archive, belonging to the University of Texas at Austin’s Harry Ransom Center, was acquired in 2014 and has been opened since 2015. The digitalization, which, the university reports, took 18 months to complete, involved the efforts of archivists, students, librarians, and conservators, among others.

Included in the Archive are 27,000 images and 22 personal scrapbooks and notebooks, among them a memoir, screenplays, photos, etc.

From the university’s site:

The papers (English | Spanish) of Gabriel García Márquez, acquired by the Ransom Center in 2014, include original manuscript material, predominantly in Spanish, for 10 books, more than 2,000 pieces of correspondence, drafts of his 1982 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, more than 40 photograph albums documenting all aspects of his life over nearly nine decades, the Smith Corona typewriters and computers on which he wrote some of the twentieth century’s most beloved works, and scrapbooks meticulously documenting his career via news clippings from Latin America and around the world.

An inventory of the papers can be found in the following finding aids:

Read the full press release on the university web site here.

Papers of Florence Nightingale now digitized using Handwritten Text Recognition technology

From Adam Matthew:

Medical Services and Warfare, 1850-1927, the latest primary source collection from Adam Matthew Digital, has transformed access to the personal and professional writings of Florence Nightingale with exclusive Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR). The HTR technology allows these handwritten papers to be fully searchable for the first time.

“[HTR] is going to transform scholarship and the types of questions researchers can ask,” commented Dr Patrick Spero, Director, American Philosophical Society Library, explaining the impact of HTR. “The technology has tremendous potential.”

Along with the Nightingale Papers, thousands of digitized documents from prestigious archives will give students and scholars first-hand knowledge of the development of medical practice as influenced by the wars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Continue reading Papers of Florence Nightingale now digitized using Handwritten Text Recognition technology

Two million open access nature illustrations available on Flickr via Biodiversity Heritage Library

From Open Culture:

“The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), an ‘open access digital library for biodiversity literature and archives,’ has for many years been making it easy for people to connect to nature through nature writing and illustration. In 2012, they announced the “success story” of their Flickr streams, both containing thousands of illustrations and photographs uploaded by the BHL staff and readers from their huge collections of books.

The first stream, currently at 122,281 images, has been carefully curated, and includes searchable galleries and albums divided by book title or subject…The second stream, consisting of over 2 million images, is a massive grab-bag of photos, illustrations from nature, advertisements, and imaginative renderings.”

Read the full article here.


More about BHL, as noted on its web site:

“The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, the BHL has digitized millions of pages of taxonomic literature, representing over 120,000 titles and over 200,000 volumes.”

Adam Matthew to publish nearly 500 years of materials on the history of printing, publishing and bookselling

Just in from Adam Matthew:

Literary Print Culture, the latest primary source collection from Adam Matthew Digital, makes available The Stationers’ Company Archive with material from 1554 to the 21st Century.

Widely regarded as one of the most important sources for the history of the book, publishing and copyright, the archive of The Worshipful Company of Stationers & Newspaper Makers is now available for unparalleled research.

Formed in London in 1403,  was instrumental in the development of the printed book in England, exerting enormous power over the publishing industry as it developed in the early modern period. In the late 15th century, the company was granted immense power by Royal Charter to control this nascent industry, leading onto the development of “copyright.” Continue reading Adam Matthew to publish nearly 500 years of materials on the history of printing, publishing and bookselling

Artificial Intelligence transforms discoverability of 17th and 18th century manuscripts using handwritten text recognition

Just in from Adam Matthew:

Adam Matthew Digital is the first primary source publisher to utilize artificial intelligence to offer transformative search capabilities with Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) for its manuscript collections.

The first new collection available with this enhancement is Colonial America, Module III: The American Revolution. Sourced from The National Archives UK, Colonial America offers access to thousands of documents on North America from 1606-1822. Described as an indispensable resource for researchers of the early-modern Atlantic world and winner of Library Journal’s Best Reference Award, scholars and researchers have clamoured for access to this material for years. Now for the first time, all handwritten documents within the entire Colonial America series are full-text searchable. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence transforms discoverability of 17th and 18th century manuscripts using handwritten text recognition

De Gruyter will digitize the entirety of its backlist. All the way back to 1749.

De Gruyter has taken the decision to digitize the entirety of its backlist all the way back to 1749. The decision to make this significant investment to complete the prestigious archive was taken earlier this year and the digitization process will begin shortly.

Many treasures are among works to be digitized, including Noam Chomsky’s “Syntactic Structures” as well as versions of “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” to name but two. The project is expected to conclude in 2020 with 3,000 additional titles to be available by the end of 2017. Of those titles digitized during the rest of this year, up to one hundred of the most important series will have priority, to allow librarians to complete their holdings. Continue reading De Gruyter will digitize the entirety of its backlist. All the way back to 1749.

The [powerful] connection between digitalization, creativity and society

An interesting discussion is taking place in the Frankfurt Book Fair circles. This press release hints at the opportunities afforded to society through digitalization, To understand it fully, it helps to understand what THE ARTS+ is about.  It is “a fair, business festival and international meeting place for the culture and creative industries,” which launched in October 2016 during the Frankfurt Book Fair and will return in October 2017.

The goal is to exploit the potential of digitalization for creative content and to develop new business areas. International artists, opinion leaders and experts will present at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair innovative approaches from the fields of publishing, museums, architecture and design, brands and agencies.

Publishing professionals and librarians can draw inspiration from such discussions as they may lead them in the direction of new partnerships, collaborations, and initiatives with ebooks and econtent, particularly (but not limited to) those promoting visual arts. Continue reading The [powerful] connection between digitalization, creativity and society

ProQuest completes digitization of rare books at Wellcome Library

Early European BooksProQuest’s Early European Books (EEB) program now includes nearly 10,000 digitized titles and more than four million pages from the Wellcome Library, the pre-eminent collection in Europe devoted to the history of medicine and related topics.

This project is part of ProQuest’s program that makes available early printed books from five major European libraries, including Danish Royal Library, the National Central Library in Florence, the National Library of the Netherlands, the National Library of France, and the Wellcome Library in London.

The rest of the press release: Continue reading ProQuest completes digitization of rare books at Wellcome Library