Digitizing the world
Der Spiegel today has an article on a project to digitize the holdings of, eventually, some 30,000 libraries, museums and archives in Germany. This is an effort to provide a non-capitalist alternative to Google’s effort to digitize every book in the world. The article relates this German effort to a larger European project, Europeana, about which Spiegel had an article last October.
As a scholar, I don’t think one can overestimate the significance and usefulness of such efforts. Through the CUA Library, I have access online to the complete Patrologia Latina of Migne–some 230 volumes–with a fine search-engine that permits me to look up individual words or phrases, to find out where and how often two words appear near one another, etc. If one wanted, for example, to study the theme of holiness and sin in the Church in a single author (Augustine, e.g.) or in all the authors down to the beginning of the 13th century, one set of useful data would be gained by typing into the search engine the phrase from the Latin version of the Epistle to the Ephesians: sine macula et ruga (without zit or wrinkle) and within seconds one has every single instance. One can do something similar with the complete works of St. Thomas Aquinas that are available for free at the Corpus Thomisticum website. One can download texts from either source on to your own computer, searchable then by your ordinary program. All the works of John Henry Newman are available and in searchable form at http://www.newmanreader.org/
Those are only three that I use regularly. Such resources have already transformed scholarship, and there are literally thousands of other similar resources.
Do you have favorite sties/resources of your own?