American Council of Learned Societies
Occasional Paper No. 41

Computing and the Humanities:
Summary of a Roundtable Meeting


  1. American Memory is the online resource compiled by the Library of Congress' National Digital Library Program that provides access both to the Library's own collections of American history as well as to those of other libraries and archives across the country (through the National Digital Library Competition).

    The ARTFL Project presents American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language—a cooperative project established in 1981 by the French Government's Centre National de la Recherche Scientific and the University of Chicago to produce a new dictionary of the French language. In the process, a database was assembled of some 2,000 French texts from the thirteenth to twentieth centuries in literature, philosophy, the arts and sciences. ARTFL is available on the Web by subscription, although some reference works have unrestricted access.

    The Perseus Project is a constantly growing "digital library of resources for studying the ancient world," including texts, translations, philological tools, maps, essays, and 24,000 photographs. Based at Tufts University, Perseus was initiated in 1985 and now consists of a four-CD-ROM set, a large proportion of which is available without charge on the Web.

    The Making of America (also at is a collaborative digital library of primary documents of mid-nineteenth-century U.S. social history. Started in 1995 as a Mellon-funded project between Cornell University and the University of Michigan, the project currently has page images and searchable text of 5,000 volumes between 1850 and 1877. The project's ambition is to involve research institutions and national consortia to develop common protocols and consensus for the selection, conversion, storage, retrieval, and use of digitized materials.

    The Museum Educational Site Licensing (MESL) Project was launched in 1995 by the Getty Art History Information Program (now the Getty Information Institute) and MUSE Educational Media. This two-year collaboration brought together seven museums and seven universities to develop and test a model of licensing visual material across closed campus networks. [Back to text.]

  2. The National Information Infrastructure refers to the body of communications and information resources and services that is becoming increasingly integrated; a variant is the Global Information Infrastructure, since communications services transcend national borders. NII components include the telephone system, cable and broadcast television, satellite and other wireless communications systems, and data bases, libraries, publications, and other information repositories. Some define the NII to include only those resources accessible electronically, others are more inclusive. The Internet is considered by many as a microcosm of the NII because it is composed of heterogeneous elements and integrates many information and communications resources. Back to text.

  3. The digital library concept involves the integration of collections, people, and services across the cycle of information creation, dissemination, organization, finding, use, and preservation. See, for example, Paul Duguid and Daniel E. Atkins, Digital Libraries: Report of the Santa Fe Planning Workshop on Distributed Knowledge Work Environments (March 9-11) (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan School of Information, 1997). Back to text.

  4. With the Association for Computing Machinery, a major computer science professional organization, SIGGRAPH is the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Computer Graphics. It blends science and art to advance computer graphics and related human-computer interactions. Back to text.

  5. Bruce R. Schatz, "Information Retrieval in Digital Libraries: Bringing Search to the Net," Science January 1997: 327-334. Back to text.

  6. See Clifford A. Lynch, "The Z39.50 Information Retrieval Standard." D-Lib Magazine April 1997. It explains that "Z39.50—properly `Information Retrieval (Z39.50); Application Service Definition and Protocol Specification, ANSI/ISO Z39.50-1995'—is a protocol which specifies data structures and interchange rules that allow a client machine (called an 'origin' in the standard) to search databases on a server machine (called a 'target' in the standard) and retrieve records that are identified as a result of such a search." Back to text.

  7. See, for example, Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Realizing the Information Future: The Internet and Beyond (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1994) for commentary and references on trends in educational institutions and libraries. Back to text.

  8. Note that the humanities differ from computer science in rewarding professional organization and evaluation of the work of others. The implications of Shaw's suggestion could range from the practical to the scholarly. Back to text.

  9. See, for example: Association of American Universities Research Libraries, Reports of the AAU Task Forces (Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 1994); Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, Realizing the Information Future: The Internet and Beyond (Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1994); Anthony M. Cummings, Marcia L. Wit, William G. Bowen, Laura O. Lazarus, and Richard Ekman, University Libraries and Scholarly Communication (Washington, DC: Association of Research Libraries, 1992); and Lawrence Dowler, ed., Gateways to Knowledge: The Role of Academic Libraries in Teaching, Learning, and Research (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997). Back to text.

  10. See Duguid and Atkins, Digital Libraries. Back to text.

    I. Introduction and Background
    II. Toward a Common Language: Methods and Context
    III. Software and Standards Development
    IV. Economic and Institutional Issues
    V. Next Steps: Talk First to Select Actions Better
    NOTES | Appendices

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