Written by time Talley
Willimantic, Conn. - Benjamin Pauley, assistant professor of English at Eastern Connecticut State University, along with Brian Geiger, director of the University of California-Riverside's Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research (CBSR), have received a $50,000 grant from Google. Pauley and Geiger will be looking for ways to provide more precise bibliographical identification of books scanned at sites like Google Books and the Internet Archive.
Their proposal has been selected to be among the first 12 projects exploring ways to leverage the massive scale of the Google Books archive for new directions in digital humanities research. Google's internet database contains more than 12 million books in more than 400 languages.
"We will work to match texts from Google Books against the bibliographical records of the English Short-Title Catalog (ESTC) which contains the highest quality records available of printed copies of books before 1801," said Pauley. "In the first phase of the project, staff at the ESTC will use their established automated computer-matching processes to try to identify as many works as possible. Inevitably, though, a great many works will escape their algorithms, in part because the metadata that Google provides is sometimes flawed. At that point, we will build on the work that my web site, Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker, has already begun to enlist students and scholars in identifying works that the ESTC's computer-matching system was unable to match."
The project's benefits are two-fold. First, gaining access to a full extract of Google's own database for matching will allow Pauley and Geiger to present users with links to freely available digital facsimiles of hundreds of thousands of pre-1801 books. Those links will be associated with exacting bibliographical records, which is good news for scholars and students at universities like Eastern, who generally don't have institutional access to the very expensive proprietary databases that have provided similar access to users at research one universities and elite private colleges for more than a decade.
Second, by providing Google with authoritative identifications of the works they have scanned, the project will improve the metadata for thousands and thousands of texts at Google Books, bringing an entirely new level of accuracy to a resource that millions of people use every day, allowing Google to improve the results they present their users.
"This is a really exciting opportunity where we can potentially involve Eastern's students, either in the form of undergraduate research projects or pre-professional experiences," said Pauley. "Working on a project like this would be enormously beneficial for students hoping to attend graduate school in English, history or other humanities disciplines."
For more information about the Google grant please contact Benajmin Pauley, at (860) 465-4574 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.