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From Aesop to Isotopes: Digital Libraries Offer Vast Online Resources

Internet Classics Archive

Visitors can select from a collection of more than 400 works of classical literature by 59 authors. All texts, originally in Latin, Greek, Chinese, or Persian, are translated into English. Here you will find the writings of three Chinese philosophers, including Confucius, and three Persian writers, as well as Ovid, Julius Caesar, Aristotle, Aesop, and others. The site, which originates at MIT, also includes a search function that facilitates use of the texts for classics research as well as related reader recommendations, trivia questions, and links to further information (the latter requires a user name and password for access to Britannica Online). See

National Academy Press

As publisher for the National Academies, National Academy Press publishes more than 200 professional-level titles a year in science, engineering, and health. An imprint of National Academy Press, Joseph Henry Press, is dedicated to publishing science titles for the scienceliterate lay reader. NAP’s Web site,, features more than 2,500 titles from both presses online for free reading. This invaluable service puts cutting-edge research at the fingertips of scholars, students, and the interested public. Instead of purchasing books or waiting for their availability at the local public library, readers can now click on the book they want to read and launch its contents into their browsers. A search function facilitates searching by title or keyword. A built-in personal agent allows a user to specify preferences, from which the NAP site will generate lists of new or recent titles fitting the reader’s profile. From this Web page, visitors can also purchase printed and bound versions of books at an enticing 20 percent discount.

Humanities Text Initiative

Based at the University of Michigan, the Humanities Text Initiative offers free online access to a wide array of classic, American, and European texts. At HTI, users will find four complete versions of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran, the texts of Abraham Lincoln’s speeches, and the works of William Blake. Included in the Humanities Text Initiative’s eclectic special collections are the American Verse Project, the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse, the Medieval Review, and a Bosnian Travel Guide. One special collection, the Making of America, is well worth visiting. It is a collection of scanned, original, primary documents in American social history from the antebellum period through Reconstruction. The collection currently contains approximately 8,500 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints. These works are reproduced as image files, so visitors can view the original documents as they were set forth. See

Early English Books Online

Early English Books Online ( is an outstanding digital library of 125,000 texts, ranging from the first book printed in English by William Caxton through the Shakespearean period and the English Civil War. This vast collection includes works by Malory, Bacon, More, Erasmus, Boyle, Newton, and Galileo, as well as musical exercises by Henry Purcell, prayer books, almanacs, calendars, and many other primary sources. The database can be searched by author, title, printer, publication date, type of illustration, and Library of Congress subject heading. Works are presented as PDF images. To access all of the material, visitors must obtain a user name and password. However, featured content is viewable free of charge, including more than 200 "greatest hits" of early English writing.

Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative

The Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative is a global consortium of scholars in the humanities, social sciences and history, along with archivists, librarians, curators, and others interested in presenting scholarly information in a new way. ECAI TimeMap is a set of software tools that allow scholarly research results to be displayed in the dimensions of space and time, lending a geographic and temporal sensibility to the findings. More than a dozen projects currently take advantage of the ECAI’s TimeMap architecture, including one on Austronesian linguistic mapping. See for more information on projects that have been completed or are under development.

Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (, a collaboration in progress between scholars at UCLA and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, is building a digital repository of cuneiform tablets dating from the beginning of writing, around 3200 B.C., until the end of the third millennium. Although scholars have been deciphering cuneiform for 150 years, many essential tools, such as a reliable paleography and a useful lexicon and grammar guide, are unavailable to most researchers. More than 120,000 tablets exist from this period. The CDLI dataset will consist of texts and images, combining document transliterations, text glossaries, and digitized originals and photo archives of early cuneiform. The online resource will be of interest to both distant scholars and to museums holding fragile collections of cuneiform that could be destroyed by frequent handling.

Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia

The Electronic Text Center ( combines an online archive of tens of thousands of SGMLand XML-encoded electronic texts and images with a library service that offers hardware and software suitable for the creation and analysis of text. The center, based at the University of Virginia, holds a collection of 45,000 on- and offline humanities texts in many languages (including Apache, Chinese, and Japanese) and 350,000 related images. Of these materials, 5,000 texts and 164,000 images are available to the public. The rest are available only to the 39-campus community of the state university system. Represented disciplines include history, literature, philosophy, religion, and history of science, with collections in multiple languages. The university owns a number of special collections, including those on Mark Twain, Thomas Jefferson, the Salem witch trials, and the Plymouth colony.

California Digital Library

The California Digital Library ( licenses scholarly materials, including journals, abstracts, and databases, and is creating electronic access to rare archival collections within the university library system. Among its wide-ranging collections are the Online Archive of California, a database of digital descriptions of archival and manuscript collections from libraries around the state (these archival search aids have never been available in electronic form before); Counting California, government data and statistics about our most populous state; the Melvyl Catalog, which records more than 15 million holdings; and the California Periodicals Database, to which the Getty Center, Graduate Theological Seminary in Berkeley, and state public libraries have contributed. CDL also stores thousands of electronic journals and specialized reference resources.


This science archive from Stanford University Libraries offers links to more than 370,000 articles from 299 journals and other research content providers.Through HighWire (, visitors can navigate through myriad journals in the life sciences, medicine, and physical sciences, as well as a few social science journals and useful non-journal sites such as the Oxford English Dictionary online. Visitors can search by author, subject, or discipline. HighWire d'es not serve simply as a portal, however. By including links among authors, articles and citations; advanced searching capabilities; high-resolution images and multimedia; and interactivity features, the site lends added dimensions to the information provided in the printed journals. Some of the journal content is available free to non-subscribers.

Visible Human Project

The Visible Human Project from National Library of Medicine has produced complete, anatomically detailed, three-dimensional representations of the male and female human body using CT, MRI, and anatomical images. The datasets are designed to serve as a common reference point for the study of human anatomy, as a set of common public domain data for testing medical imaging algorithms, and as a test bed and model for the construction of image libraries that can be accessed through networks. See

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