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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Electronic Sources
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1679  Monday, 4 September 2000.

[1]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Friday, 01 Sep 2000 21:39:15 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1672 Re: Electronic Sources

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Saturday, 2 Sep 2000 12:26:09 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1672 Re: Electronic Sources



[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Friday, 01 Sep 2000 21:39:15 +0100
Subject: 11.1672 Re: Electronic Sources
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1672 Re: Electronic Sources

Hillary Nunn's teaching experiences with EEBO sound interesting, but I
have done the same sort of thing with new graduate students for more
than 30 years using the STC and Wing microfilm sets and the printed
tools which have been provided (RSTC, Wing 1 and 2, Allison and
Goldsmith, etc.) also with excellent results.

The  EEBO database cannot be searched by printer/publisher, by place, or
by date, except in the most basic sort of way.  In the first two
instances it fails completely when compared with the Eighteenth-Century
Short-Title Catalogue (either online or on CD-ROM) and in the latter
instance the third volume of the RSTC is far superior.  Not only is this
no advance on the already printed and microfilmed resources, it is
actually a step backward.  Let me provide a few examples.

Entering "Andronicus" into the search window for either all keywords or
keywords in titles produces no results. A search for "Titus" and
"Andronicus" also produced no results.  In other words, this database
tells us that no books were printed between 1475 and 1700 with "Titus"
and "Andronicus" in their title.  However, searching for authors under
"Shakespeare" produces 151 hits and when these are sorted into
chronological order number seven turns out to be The most lamentable
Romaine tragedie of Titus Andronicus (1594).  This is RSTC 22328 and if
one searches by RSTC number one finally gets to the main entry.  One
could do it so much more quickly and easily from the printed sources
that one wonders why one is using this database.  Furthermore, once the
item is reached, the downloading and printing of the not very high
quality images derived from the microfilm copy makes working in most
research libraries' microform rooms seem almost idyllic.  Very quickly
one learns that this database will not search imprint information, which
one can do in volume three of RSTC and volume four of Wing (2nd. ed.).
Furthermore, reels are still coming after about sixty years from the STC
and Wing projects on microfilm.  How much has been excluded from the
online project?

Libraries which already subscribe to the microfilm series should think
long and hard about EEBO.  Those libraries which have not subscribed
might find EEBO "better than nothing," but no one should be fooled into
thinking that EEBO is the same as the microfilm sets, and no one should
think that EEBO will provide better searching than the printed sources.

William Proctor Williams

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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Date:           Saturday, 2 Sep 2000 12:26:09 +0100
Subject: 11.1672 Re: Electronic Sources
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1672 Re: Electronic Sources

Hillary Nunn writes,

> Gabriel Egan mentioned in his message yesterday that he'd
> be surprised if anyone used EEBO in teaching - well, I just
> wanted to let people know that the online version of Early
> English Books worked well for me in the classroom last year.
>  I used EEBO in a junior level Shakespeare class at Michigan
> State, asking students to consult it for class presentations.
> Their assignment was to find texts that commented on the issues
> presented in a given play, and, after sending them to a training session
> and giving them a list of keywords (and cautions about spelling), I set
> them loose to explore.

Bravo, but could you clarify how they were searching? Perhaps I've
misunderstood, but since EEBO is a database of pictures, the keywords
you gave them could only be searched against the catalogue record,
right? The only fields I can see are author, subjects, title, keywords,
reel position, STC number, and imprint. The advanced search allows other
specialized fields (source library, language, etc) but nowhere can I see
a "search the full text of the work" field.

Indeed Hillary goes on to say:

> Just to set the record straight, I'm now working on a project at the
> University of Michigan that aims to make a portion of EEBO's texts
> keyword searchable - something that would undoubtedly be helpful in a
> classroom setting

By 'keyword' I take it you mean 'full text', since there already is a
keyword field attached to each record. Undoubtedly if the early printed
books could be searched by any word in them this would be enormously
usefully, but this is what LION already provides. EEBO's strength is
surely in the digital images of early printed books, and since Bell and
Howell owns both EEBO and LION the logical step is to unite these two
products.

I do not mean to sound dismissive, but I still can't imagine how EEBO
would be useful in a classroom setting since one can only search the
catalogue record for each item, not the full text of the item.  So
students might find (as I did) that a search for "chastity" in all
fields produces 22 records (items with chastity in their titles or
subtitles) but one can hardly judge a book by its cover and the students
will have to read all of each item (not an easy process on EEBO) to find
where the concept is used.

So, unless I've misunderstood EEBO, it could be used in a classroom only
as an alternative to the electronic STC (which also allows Pollard and
Redgrave and Wing records to be searched this way). Perhaps I've simply
never been blessed with undergraduates for whom a searchable STC would
be useful. LION, on the other hand, they get to grips with immediately
because it takes them right down to the sentence in which, Robert
Greene, say, gives an opinion on chastity.

Naturally, I have no connections with UMI, Chadwyck-Healey, or Bell and
Howell.

Gabriel Egan
 

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