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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: April ::
EEBO
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0709  Thursday, 14 April 2005

[1]     From:   William Proctor Williams <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 12:20:40 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0693 EEBO

[2]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Thursday, 14 Apr 2005 10:43:55 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0693 EEBO

[3]     From:   Shawn Martin <
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 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 12:45:14 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0693 EEBO


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Proctor Williams <
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Date:           Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 12:20:40 -0400
Subject: 16.0693 EEBO
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0693 EEBO

Everything that J. D. Markel says about EEBO is true, and more, but what
is most daunting for many colleges and universities struggling with
shrinking budgets is the cost.  At our place, with 23,000 students and
700+ faculty the cost will be US$91,830.00.  The blunt fact here is that
if you get EEBO, no matter how good its search capabilities and how good
or bad its images and coverage, then you are going to have to give up
something else, and that is more than likely going to be journal
subscriptions and book purchases.  The world of academic research is
going to be divided into the world of the haves and the world of the
have nots.  It probably has always been so divided, but most thought
that the WWW was going to fix all that.  Obviously it isn't.

William Proctor Williams

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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 >
Date:           Thursday, 14 Apr 2005 10:43:55 +0100
Subject: 16.0693 EEBO
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0693 EEBO

J. D. Markel has put his or her finger on an couple of important
terminological problems. I'll take them in reverse order:

 >Given that the texts [in EEBO] are not fully searchable, what are
 >the parameters of the searches available?  Author and title are
 >obvious search terms, but EEBO also supplies a "Keyword"
 >function.  Who picks the "keywords" and what are the protocols
 >for determining them?

Here we're up against an important difference between the American and
the British sense of 'keyword'. OED's sense of a 'keyword' is "any
informative word in the title or text of a document, etc., chosen as
indicating the main content of the document" (OED key n.1 18) and
British writers tend to confine themselves to this sense. Thus Raymond
Williams's descriptive index of important cultural and political terms
that had changed their meanings in significant ways over the centuries,
written for but omitted from his book Culture and Society, was published
separately as his book Keywords.

However, American usage is quite different: 'keywords' is a pseudo-field
comprised of an amalgamation of other fields, and in the case of EEBO a
search of the 'keywords' field is equivalent to a search of all the
other fields that are searchable. I was able to confirm this by checking

www.gabrielegan.com/whatwhere

which is a crib-sheet I made to supplement my Shakespeare Association of
America paper (Bermuda, 2005) on the problems such ambiguities present
for the scholarly use of digital large textual corpora. I've no other
publication plans for the paper, so if two or more people are interested
in it, I'll happily put the text of the paper on my website too.

A second confusion is of J. D. Markel's own making, and I mention it not
so much by way of reproach but to illustrate how easily one may obscure
this already-tricky subject with imprecise terminology. Markel wrote:

 >If one digs into the EEBO site, one finds this [searchability]
 >is not so.  Therein mentioned is a "separate initiative" to
 >digitize 25,000 of the EEBO texts into ASCII - that is,
 >fully searchable formats

To 'digitize' is not to turn something into ASCII nor is it to make
something searchable. The images in EEBO are already digital (made of
numbers) and the work of the Text Creation Partnership (as the project
Markel refers to is called) is to turn pictures of words (the EEBO
images made from the microfilms) back into words. Once the contents of
the books are words again, rather than images, they will be searchable.
Whether the encoding scheme is ASCII or something else is irrelevant.

Finally, as well as the scholarly conference at Bath Spa that prompted
J. D. Markel's posting, there's an EEBO event called "Using EEBO (Early
English Books Online) in Research and Teaching" from 10.30am to 4pm on
Friday 29 April 2005 at the Maughan Library (Room 1.63)--formerly the
Public Record Office on Chancery Lane--of King's College London,
organized by the English Subject Centre, part of what is now called the
Higher Education Academy of the United Kingdom. The event is free and
all interested parties are welcome. The event contact is Dr. Jonathan
Gibson (
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 ) at the English Subject Centre. To
book your place, visit the English Subject Centre website now at
www.english.heacademy.ac.uk

Gabriel Egan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shawn Martin <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 12:45:14 -0400
Subject: 16.0693 EEBO
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0693 EEBO

Hello,

I'm the project librarian for the Early English Books Online - Text
Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) project at the University of Michigan,
or, in response to the previous message the "group effort of member
institutions." More information about the project is available at
http://www.lib.umich.edu/tcp/eebo, and I would certainly encourage those
interested to look at the website or to contact me with further
questions or comments.

To explain a bit about what the project is, the Text Creation
Partnership (TCP) was founded in 2000 as a project between the
Universities of Michigan and Oxford, ProQuest (publisher of EEBO) and
the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).  It was thought
at the time that the true value of EEBO for scholars and students was
not just the access to electronic images but the ability to search full
text.  However, considering the great expense for full text conversion,
ProQuest couldn't create full text for the collection and then pass that
cost on to their customers.  So, it was decided to create a partnership
that in its first phase (with possibilities of extension later on
depending on finances) create 25,000 full texts.  These texts would be
paid for and created by the academic library community and, in turn,
owned by libraries.  So, texts created by EEBO-TCP will be owned by
libraries and eventually enter the public domain.  This project is very
unique in the fact that it cooperates with all interested parties
(libraries, scholars, publishers), to create text that will suit the
needs of all involved.  Also, EEBO-TCP being an academic project is very
interested in how these texts and images are used and how best to
respond to the needs of the academic community.

So far, EEBO-TCP has created about 8,700 texts which are available to
partner libraries, about 500 new texts are added bi-monthly, and
EEBO-TCP is working toward getting funding to create 25,000.  Again,
more information about how these texts are selected and created is
available at the website.  These texts are available in two places: one
at a database site at the University of Michigan and also at ProQuest's
EEBO site.  On ProQuest's site one can search either by "keyword" across
the texts currently available and the records already contained in the
ProQuest database or just on authors, titles, etc. in the records of the
books themselves.

Hopefully this helps a bit in explaining what EEBO and EEBO-TCP are all
about, and, as I said before, don't hesitate to ask if there are further
questions.  I can also get people in touch with folks at ProQuest if
there are further questions about their product.  I agree that perhaps
it would be good to get some more information about the mechanics of
this project available on the ProQuest site, and I think this is a great
project to be working on and will make this resource even more usable
and important for years to come.

Thanks,
Shawn

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