The Electronic Text Center & Online Archive of
David Seaman, Alderman Library, University of Virginia
The Electronic Text Center aims to establish a new broad-based user community, and to establish electronic texts as a mainstream resource for pedagogy and research at the University. To this end the ETC runs regular training sessions for the on-line texts and search tools, and works daily with individual users to introduce them to new working methods, new teaching possibilities, and new types of equipment.
Electronic Text Holdings
The on-line texts include the new Oxford English Dictionary; the entire corpus of Old English writings; selected Library of America titles; several versions of Shakespeare's complete works; hundreds of literary, social, historical, and philosophical materials in several languages, and the currently released parts of two massive databases: J.P. Migne's Patrologia Latina, and the English Poetry Full-Text Database. Access to these texts is restricted to University of Virginia students, faculty and staff.
Having the majority of electronic texts available on-line gives people much more flexible and convenient access to UVa's holdings, and allows the ETC to provide the same search and display software for all collections. Having been taught to use one database, one has the knowledge necessary to search any of the databases, thereby overcoming the frustrations involved with using texts on CD-ROMs, where each disk typically has a different interface.
In addition to building the on-line collection, the Electronic Text Center provides a place in which to use those texts not available on-line, including the works of Emmanuel Kant; the Global Jewish database; the ICAME lan- guage corpora; Perseus (a collection of Greek texts and images); the CETEDOC Latin texts; and a hypertext edition of the works of Thomas Aquinas. The Center also makes available hardware and software that permits the computerized creation and analysis of text, including scanners that turn printed text into computerreadable forms and that produce digitized images; CD-ROM drives, large color monitors, and software that can generate indices, collations, concordances, word-lists, statistical analyses, and hypertexts.
The first year of operation has seen a surprising number of users working on a wide range of research and teaching projects. Users have ranged from first-year undergraduates in composition classes to graduate students studying aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Middle English literature, Shakespeare, analytical bibliography, or the eighteenth-century novel; scholars from Religious Studies working with the Hebrew Bible and rabbinical responsa; French students learning medieval French; graduate classes from both the Computer Science and English Departments examining data encoding, text searching, and software design; and professors or graduate students from the History, Commerce, and Education Departments working on various individual projects. We are beginning to see, too, the creation by faculty and graduate assistants of customized "class packets" and hypertexts, which can knit together texts, images, and even digital sound, and to which they can send their students just as they would to a reserve reading or video.
As the databases grow, we are seeing that the electronic texts not only allow students to ask questions of material in ways that are otherwise too time-consuming, but also to trace an idea or image across centuries, genres, and authors (or to constrain a search to some subset of a database). In some cases, texts long out of print are for the first time in years now available for use in electronic versions -- the huge and comprehensive English Poetry Database is a good example of this trend. However, one is not reliant on a publisher producing the electronic text you need: English Department Chair Patricia Spacks has created electronic versions of two 18th century novels specifically in order to make them available to her students.
While it is not yet possible to bring the etext service "live" into our classrooms, there is an "electronic classroom" in Alderman's Reference Room to which faculty and teaching assistants can bring their classes, and in which many training sessions take place.
The Electronic Text Center is on the third floor of Alderman Library, and is open Monday-Thursday 9am-8pm; Friday 9am-6pm; Sunday 1pm-6pm. It is staffed by David Seaman (coordinator), with Peter Byrnes, David Gants, Peter Kastor, Jamie Spriggs, and Kelly Tetterton. For more information, call 804-924-3230, or e-mail email@example.com.