Very large digital libraries and the future of the humanities: What do you do with a million books?
With Google Library and the Open Content Alliance, backed by Microsoft and Yahoo, very large collections are beginning to take shape. At one extreme, we may find the best academic library ever created available on-line either for free or priced to reach a mass market. Even if this vision is not fully realized, we need to consider the prospect of having much more material previously available only in print libraries available to a much larger on-line audience. What are the implications for academia and especially for the humanities, as large, industrially produced, lightly structured digital collections present the published record of the past? The Mellon Foundation is supporting a year-long study of this problem.
We are particularly interested in the interaction of core technologies (e.g., converting page images to text, managing multiple languages and especially historical languages, and converting full text to machine actionable data) and humanities domains such as classical, early modern and English language studies. We welcome thoughtful contributions on any key issue: subscription vs. open access and/or open source, personalization and customization, new publications that build upon access to large, stable collections, new groups of contributors building Wikis or other community driven systems; the development of new services (e.g., machine translation, automatic bibliographic databases, dynamically generated timelines and maps). All submissions should consider possible implications for three audiences: those already engaged in a given area of the humanities, academics looking to work with a broader range of primary sources (e.g., using machine translation to explore Renaissance Latin), and members of society as a whole, both in the United States and abroad, who will have unprecedented access to the published record of humanity.
Papers should address one or more of the following audiences: computer and information scientists conducting research with potential application in the humanities; digital librarians, both commercial and academic; funders investing in a digital infrastructure for the humanities; professional academics conducting teaching and research; members of the general public exploring the record of humanity.
Abstracts (up to 800 words) due December 15. (This deadline has been extended to include results from the “Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science:WHAT TO DO WITH A MILLION BOOKS?? (Nov 5-6, 2006: http://dhcs.uchicago.edu/).
Abstracts will be made available for public discussion January 15 with key submissions invited to be developed into full papers due April 1, 2007 for discussion at a workshop at Tufts University, May 22-24, 2007.
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