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Contact details
Peter Leggate, Keeper of Scientific Books,
Radcliffe Science Library Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QP
Phone: 01865 272820 Fax: 01865 272821

Hugh Wellesley-Smith, Deputy Librarian,
Edward Boyle Library University of Leeds Leeds LS2 9JT
Phone: 0113 2335542 Fax: 0113 2335539

Project description

as of 4th January 1996


Digitisation is a key mechanism by which libraries with important research collections can fulfill their responsibilities by providing improved access to users in other UK higher education institutions and internationally. The aim of this project is to offer expanded access over the Internet to digitised page images of substantial runs of 18th- and 19th-century journals, and to evaluate in terms of use and acceptability.


The core collection for the project will be runs of at least 20 consecutive years of:
  • three 18th-century journals: Gentleman's Magazine, The Annual Register, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society
  • three 19th-century journals: Notes and Queries, The Builder and Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine
The 20-year runs are considered the minimum to provide a critical mass of material as perceived by the user. This core may be expanded by the addition of longer runs and/or other titles within the resources available.

We will explore variables in the digitisation, retrieval and display processes which could affect both cost of image and index creation and the acceptability to the user. The variables are:

  • image creation: from both paper originals and existing microfilm copies. The effects of resolution, data compression and the use of black/white and grey scales will be assessed
  • indexing: effective indexing is essential to user acceptability. The alternatives which will be explored are OCR full-text, both with and without fuzzy matching software, existing electronic indexes and the creation of electronic versions of printed indexes. The use of OCR full-text would be a major source of added value for some of the journals.
  • access to indexed images: from both a World-Wide-Web platform and Excalibur Technologies EFS software through X-Windows.
Information will be gathered on who uses the service, how frequently and for what purposes, and on the acceptability of images and indexes to users. The intended outcome is firm evidence and recommendations on the technological, economic and user acceptability aspects of digitisation which could serve as a basis for the development of a national digitisation programme for out-of-copyright journals.

The Users

The services will be advertised widely among discipline-based groups and will be available to users from any institutions within the UK and worldwide who can access the servers. We will solicit electronic and other feedback from all users but more detailed feedback will be sought from identified departments, groups and individuals in the participating universities and other institutions.


The Consortium partners are:
  • Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (joint lead site)
  • Leeds University Library (joint lead site)
  • Information Services, University of Birmingham University
  • John Rylands University Library of Manchester
Cambridge University Library , Primary Source Media (Reading), Chadwyck-Healey and Oxford University Press have all offered to supply material for digitisation within the framework of the project. Departments or individuals in Oxford Brookes, Leeds Metropolitan and Manchester Metropolitan Universities have already expressed an interest as potential users.

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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