background image
66
helpful within the community of emblem scholars, a goal of equal importance is to increase
awareness of digital emblematica.
This paper examines two basic points in the development of cross-collection search capabili-
ties: the first point examined here is how institutions with digitized emblem books might share
title-level information in a form that can be searchable across collections.The second point pre-
sented here is a recommendation that the emblem community consider creating a collection-
level registry, with references to current emerging practices in the work on collection-level
description for digital collections. Both points involve the creation of registries - item and col-
lection level. Each type of registry will provide a different, but, one might argue, uniquely signi-
ficant type of information for the user.Taken together, these two types of structures might enable
scholars to identify individual emblem titles as well as determine the scope and coverage of dig-
ital emblem collections.
While we are all working essentially with similar materials in a well-defined genre, our local
needs and our research perspectives on these collections may result in institutions taking differ-
ent choices in the digital capture, the creation of metadata, and the provision of digital access to
the content of emblem books.The approaches suggested here seek to identify opportunities for
discovery across collections, a commonly agreed-upon goal that emerged from the Wolfenbüttel
seminar.
Ti t l e - L eve l I n f o r m a t i o n
One of the primary motivations in the emblem studies community for sharing information
about collections is for both scholars and curators to know not only the depth and breadth of the
print collections, but also which ones have been, will be digitized (emblem images, mottos,
accompanying texts) and the encoding schemes used for the texts and images.There are a num-
ber of challenges to the easy sharing of this information using traditional means.To begin with,
the universe of printed emblem books is finite, yet there is no single published and accessible
source, either print or electronic, that describes either print or digital emblem collections and
holdings across institutions.To date, there are a number of excellent print publications and works
that describe discrete collections and that aggregate the titles of emblem books in those collec-
tions.
2
There is even a database that attempts to serve the laudable purpose of a union catalog of
emblem books, but this resource is far from complete, and it is not publicly accessible for search-
ing by scholars or other users. Prospective users must request a password from the database admin-
istrator to gain Web access to this resource, which in itself presents a significant obstacle to access.
There is also the practical issue of knowing what titles other institutions have digitized or plan
to digitize. On the face of it, duplication would appear to be a problem.While the universe of
emblem books is finite, the fact that two institutions are digitizing the same title may provide the
research community with an invaluable source of comparative information across editions, as
opposed to what might appear to some a needlessly duplicative effort suggested by one author.
Due to the unique nature of book publishing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, two
institutions digitizing the same title may deliberately seek to provide access to different editions
containing substantive or significant differences in content.This is one case where duplication
should be encouraged, rather than discouraged, and also where it would be helpful to collocate
information about digitization plans across the institutions working with similar content, as in
the emblem community. One such project under way in the United States is the Registry of Dig-
ital Masters, an endeavor still under development, co-sponsored by the Digital Library Federa-
tion and OCLC. The intent of the Registry of Digital Masters is to provide a venue for
institutions to contribute information to a database about materials (serials, monographs, born-
2
See, for example, among the many
such publications,Thomas McGeary
and N. Frederick Nash, Emblem
Books at the University of Illinois:A
Bibliographic Catalogue, I: Original
Editions; II: Reprints and Microforms
(Boston: Hall, 1993).
DC_Emblemsbook_180204 19.02.2004 11:25 Uhr Seite 66