Digitization

St. Andrews U To Expand Digitization of Early European Books

Scotland's St. Andrews University has selected a private partner to assist in its efforts to digitize early books, which will now include those written before 1650.

St. Andrews' Universal Short Title Catalogue (USTC) is a database of every book printed from the invention of the printing press through 1601. The database, which, at the moment, lists 364,000 items, also details the physical location of the original texts. Thanks to a recent grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the USTC project will be funded through 2018 and will be expanded to include all books published through 1650.

With the new partnership, ProQuest will use the database to identify the physical location of as many texts as possible and determine if they are in good enough condition to be digitized. As a consequence, the texts, known in academia as Early European Books (EEB), will be available to researchers around the world. They will likewise become resources for university libraries and help in the teaching of college courses in philosophy, religion, social sciences and medicine.

"The agreement with ProQuest is intended to facilitate the application of the analytical power of the USTC," said St. Andrews Modern History Professor Andrew Pettegree. He is also director of the USTC. "We're excited about the opportunity for the USTC to improve the present quality of EEB records, and advising strategic planning for development of the program."

Most of the EEB documents — about 14 million pages in 45,000 curated items — are in four National Libraries across Europe, including the Wellcome Trust in London.

"Working with the University of St. Andrews will enable us to enhance not only the resources already in our own EEB collections, but will increase our development of valuable materials at a much more strategic level," said Susan Bokern, vice president of product management for ProQuest.

ProQuest develops cloud-based digital research tools.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.

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