Home » Second Interface Taskforce Meeting 2003-07-29

Second Interface Taskforce Meeting 2003-07-29

Monday, July 28 – Tuesday, July 29 2003

Faculty Participants: William Bowen (University of Toronto), Jennifer Danby (CUNY-Graduate Center), Robert Hatch (University of Florida), Arthur Kinney (University of Massachusetts), Ian Lancashire (University of Toronto), Steven Mullaney (University of Michigan), Hillary Nunn (University of Akron), Martin Powers (University of Michigan), Michael Schoenfeldt (University of Michigan), Tess Tavormina (Michigan State University)

Librarian Participants: Stuart Dempster (Joint Information Systems Committee – UK), Jane Faulkner (University of California – Santa Barbara), Agnes Widder (Michigan State University), Perry Willett (Indiana University)

EEBO-TCP Staff: Maria Bonn, Olivia Bottum, Marika Ismail, Rina Kor, Jennifer Keitzman, John Latta, Mona Logarbo, Shawn Martin, Paul Schaffner

University of Michigan Library Staff : William Gosling, Chris Powell, David Richtmyer, Mark Sandler, Matt Stoeffler, John Price Wilkin

ProQuest Staff: Jo-Anne Hogan, Mary Sauer-Games

Purpose: The EEBO-TCP Selection Task Force was convened on July 28th and 29th for the purpose of discussing the guidelines developed by a previous task force in March, 2000. The purpose was to see if the original guidelines—in theory and practice—were meeting the needs of EEBO-TCP users and if steps should be taken to change selection procedures. While text selection has moved very well for the first two years of the project, this current task force meeting gave project staff the opportunity to confer with the primary audience and users of the TCP about future phases of the project. The members of the task force included a cross section of scholars in fields ranging from sixteenth century English literature to Chinese art, and they discussed the following topics:

    • 1. Use of EEBO
    • 2. EEBO-TCP Audience: Who is it and how should we encourage them?
    • 3. Topical vs. author-based selection
    • 4. Focus on England/focus on English views of the world
    • 5. Teaching/research modules
    • 6. Future directions

Use of EEBO

Purpose: This discussion generated ideas about how both EEBO and EEBO-TCP are currently used and how they might be used in the future.

    • 1. How has EEBO/EEBO-TCP been used?
    • 2. How could EEBO/EEBO-TCP be used?
    • 3. What can the Undergraduate Essay Contest tell us about how it can/should be used?

Overall, the group believed that the use of the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL) had been a successful starting point for the project and would continue to serve as a guide for the future. It was felt, however, that EEBO-TCP would need a way to supplement the shortcomings of the NCBEL. Participants indicated that EEBO-TCP could bring additional subject expertise to selection. It was recommended that EEBO-TCP ask for recommendations (perhaps ten or so titles) from subject specialists. Also, it was stated that the NCBEL, though quite comprehensive, has a greater focus on “literature” than other areas such as science and engineering. A mechanism should be developed to ensure balance in including such works. This concern seemed especially pressing among those recognizing an increased push toward interdisciplinary studies. The group felt that EEBO-TCP should be positioned to appeal to both non-humanities and humanities majors.

Participants also stated that EEBO-TCP should try to classify things in a better way, in order to browse materials in the database more effectively. For example, it was suggested that the project could assign subject categories or genre types to each of the texts, allowing students and teachers to browse among the different categories. There was some concern expressed about how such subject categories would be assigned.

EEBO-TCP Audience: Who is it and how should we encourage them?

Purpose: This discussion gathered ideas about the primary audience of EEBO /EEBO-TCP and what how to meet the needs of these users.

    • 1. Is the primary audience of EEBO/EEBO-TCP advanced scholars?
    • 2. Is the primary audience of EEBO/EEBO-TCP novice researchers ?
    • 3. Is there another target audience that is missing?
    • 4. Should EEBO/EEBO-TCP attempt to strike a balance between these audiences, and if so, how?

Generally, the members of the taskforce believed that EEBO-TCP should be directed toward “the teachers and researchers of the future” meaning primarily graduate students and to some extent undergraduates. There was also some belief that both EEBO and EEBO-TCP should look into extending the current audience by promoting access for other researchers such as genealogists and those interested in rare books.

The group noted that there is a “conservative” element among many departments that is hesitant to use electronic resources. Nevertheless, it was noted that the trend is changing, and departments are beginning to see an interweaving of electronic materials and original resources in papers and dissertations. Graduate students tend to be savvier about using such resources, and, as they become more aware of these resources, the use of EEBO and EEBO-TCP will increase. Participants indicated that undergraduates might use EEBO images more effectively than EEBO-TCP text because of the large number of hits and the need for more sophisticated searching associated with full-text. Members suggested that EEBO and EEBO-TCP come up with some ready made searches and sources for undergraduates to use. It was further suggested that EEBO-TCP staff work with local faculty at the University of Michigan to determine such strategies.

There was also an interest among the group for EEBO/EEBO-TCP to survey how these materials are used in libraries where the public has access to them, such as the New York Public Library and perhaps using that information to see how it might be used in selection. There was a general consensus that there might be an audience for both EEBO and EEBO-TCP in museums, public libraries, and among amateur researchers.

Topical vs. Author-Based Selection

Purpose: This set of discussions considered the current selection strategy of EEBO-TCP and its use of the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature to identify authors for inclusion in the EEBO-TCP database. Additionally, the group discussed whether subject based selection should replace or supplement the current author-based approach, and, if so, what subjects and topics would be most desirable.

Overall, the group indicated that given the necessity of keeping up production of 250 books per month, the current author based selection strategy should be maintained. It was also agreed that using this strategy allowed lesser known authors to be included in the corpus, though there were concerns about the academic defensibility of such a strategy. Some thought that NCBEL might automatically filter out certain titles.

It was suggested that in addition to using authors, one might consult bibliographies for topics and then devise a grid in which scholars are asked to identify titles for specified topics and time periods. That way, there would be a core of materials that has been selected by scholars as the most valuable works for particular areas of study. The author- based strategy would still be the basic strategy employed, but the subject/time grid would ensure that certain critical works would not be missed. It was also suggested that EEBO-TCP recruit an academic advisory board made up of academics and librarians that would be consulted for purposes of selection. Along with the advisory board, it might be beneficial to have an application process whereby individual scholars applied in some way to get titles included in the database.

Other task force members mentioned that it would be beneficial to link to different editions on the site (whether in image or in text form) so that scholars could page through them. Also, there was interest in EEBO-TCP providing more bibliographic information, specifically author/title information, and that there might be support for selecting titles by other means such as printer, place of publication, and language. Additionally, members felt that more Latin publications should be included in the database.

Finally, several topics were mentioned as possibilities for selection including (but not limited to) surgery, herbals, medicine, trials, punishment, witchcraft, social classes, court life, hunting, law reports, royal proclamations, acts of parliament, discovery and exploration, slavery, historical events, English civil war, Spanish armada, fire of London, coronations, executions, alchemy, astrology, puritans, magic, Parliament, children, institutions, family life, home medical books, travel, midwifery, schools, cookery, dancing, fencing, recreation, costume, animals, engineering, architecture, devotional books, places: Tower of London, royal exchange, York, Bristol for commerce, mercantile trade, Turks and the Ottomans, India, Venice, Antwerp, wool trade, East India Company, livery companies, coopers, courtesy books/literature, gentlemen’s books, theater, dramatists, military, fortifications, dueling, army, navy, papacy, Catholics, Quakers, sects, family love, Puritans, Jews, cavaliers, Reformation, underworld, roundheads, Old Cromwell, levelers, jewelry, dress, furnishings, every day life stuff, population statistics/trends, prisons, low country, pirates, Spanish romances, fiction, madness, insanity, women, wives, music, education, universities, Oxford, Cambridge, Russians, English translations of Paris conferences, Waller’s translation of academy, classical studies, philology, maps, and atlases.

Focus on England/Focus on English Views of the World

Purpose: This discussion group determined whether EEBO-TCP should exclude certain materials because they are not about English topics but rather about other parts of the world. Also, since EEBO-TCP is partnering with some other projects that will deal specifically with other parts of the world, whether it would be good for EEBO-TCP to use that as a reason to eliminate some non-English materials.

    • 1. What is the primary focus of EEBO-TCP?
    • 2. How should EEBO-TCP balance its English vs. non-English contents?
    • 3. How should TCP deal with possible duplication in its collections?
    • 4. What should EEBO-TCP do about “foreign language” materials?

Generally, the consensus of the group was that EEBO-TCP should not exclude any materials because they are not about England. It is difficult to determine what future scholars will want to research, and, since there is so much being done on the study of the Atlantic world and English encounters with other cultures, excluding such materials would be detrimental to scholars. Additionally, titles should not be rejected even if they are available elsewhere, because it would be unfair to researchers who might be part of one TCP project but not another, and such duplications would be useful for those studying print culture or reading practices.

Related to the topic about English culture is English language and whether EEBO-TCP should include works from other languages. Generally, the consensus was that scholars expect the inclusion of Latin and other languages in the database. Once researchers saw that they were getting results in Latin, they would probably search on Latin words. It was also suggested that EEBO-TCP could explain somewhere in the search interface that EEBO-TCP includes not only English but other languages as well. There was some suggestion that EEBO-TCP include all of the books in a certain language to form a kind of critical mass (all 20 books in German instead of just 2 of them).

Teaching/Research Modules

Purpose: This discussion group generated ideas both on how to design and how to encourage use in teaching and research modules and how both EEBO and EEBO-TCP might be helpful in assisting scholars more on how to use the database.

Generally, it was thought that there should be some outreach at scholarly conferences like RSA, SAA, and MLA and some updates and publications in scholarly journals. The TCP should not, however, lose sight of the primary purpose to create texts, and should therefore focus its efforts on that and let scholars work on ways to use the texts in their classrooms.

Some practical suggestions brought up were to select materials based on popular courses such as books on and about Shakespeare and creating lists on the website to make scholars aware of these resources. Also, it was mentioned that it might be helpful to have a permanent book bag feature that would contain a URL teachers could then distribute to their classes. Likewise, it might be helpful to have a list of popular searches so that users could see what kinds of things the database is being used for now.

Future Directions

Purpose: This discussion group focused on EEBO-TCP should proceed with selection in the future.

    • 1. How would you like to see EEBO-TCP make selections in the future?
    • 2. How would you like to see EEBO-TCP develop as a research tool for the academic community?
    • 3. How would you like to see the development of TCP develop in relationship to EEBO-TCP?
    • 4. How can EEBO-TCP help you to advance the research and teaching of this period?

Overall, the task force believed that EEBO-TCP should continue building upon the work it has already done in building this corpus. The project should continue to produce a large number of searchable texts from the titles in the EEBO database and build this resource for scholars as it has done so far.

In terms of improvement upon this model, it was suggested that EEBO-TCP encourage more scholarly involvement to identify a core group of texts that would serve as an addendum to the current selection process. EEBO-TCP should also do more work to reach out to scholars to make them aware of the possibilities of the corpus in teaching and research. This could be accomplished by attending more scholarly conferences and publishing in scholarly journals. Additionally, EEBO-TCP should not exclude any materials because of other considerations (overlap with other projects, for example) but should include texts based on established guidelines without taking those other circumstances into consideration. Finally, EEBO and EEBO-TCP should take an interest in broadening the scope of the project in a variety of ways such as disciplinary focus and audience, and investigate ways that EEBO and EEBO-TCP might be of use to the widest variety of scholars and researchers. The general sense of the group seemed to be that both EEBO and EEBO-TCP are valuable resources that will become increasingly indispensable to scholars of this and future generations.

  • Consider costs/benefits of additional production sites but not immediately
  • A next Board meeting will be scheduled in late November or early December of 2000.