Brown's celebratory purchase representing future directions for scholarly information and inquiry is a package of remarkable online databases from the British publishing firm Chadwyck-Healey. Through the Library's acquisition of the Chris Philip Fireworks Collection, and this powerful group of electronic reference sources, we celebrate both the traditional library and the library of tomorrow. The generosity of Paul R. Dupee Jr. '65 makes it possible for us to expand greatly the number of online resources available to the Brown community; four Chadwyck-Healey databases are being acquired through this single gift: LION, Patrologia Latina (PLD), Archives USA, and the Periodical Contents Index.
LION, or Literature Online, has been described as "the home of English and American Literature on the World Wide Web." LION is a compilation of several full text, reference and bibliographic resources that support literature research. The Brown University Library has purchased this database in CD-ROM format, and has also purchased a license to use the database via the Worldwide Web. LION is dynamic as new texts are converted, additional licenses for reference works negotiated, and other web sites linked. The Master Index is a comprehensive list of authors and works available in LION. The databases included are as follows:
- English Poetry (essentially the complete English poetic canon from 600 to 1900; over 165,000 poems)
- English Drama (both English verse and prose of 4,000 plays from the late thirteenth century to the early twentieth century)
- Early English Prose Fiction (over 200 complete works of fictional prose from the period I500-1700)
- Shakespeare (eleven major editions from the First Folio to the Cambridge edition of 1863-66, and much more)
- The Bible (twenty-one versions of the Bible in English)
- The King James Bible (authorized version included in its own right to provide a single Bible for reference purposes)
- Eighteenth-Century Fiction (seventy-seven complete works of English prose from 1700-80)
- American Poetry (over 40,000 poems from the Colonial Period to the early twentienth century)
- African-American Poetry (nearly 3,000 poems written by African American poets in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries)
- The Annual Bibliography of English Languages and Literature
- Bibliography of American Literature
- Webster's Third New International Dictionary, unabridged
- Periodicals Content Index: literature
The LION database alone contains enough works, indeed, to serve as a library of British and American literature; and, like many of our other online resources, it may be searched not only m the library but from any workstation on the campus network. The scholar who needs to check a literary reference at 2 A.M. need no longer wait for the Library to open, so long as she has access to the Brown University network.
In his comments on LION, Michael Harper, Professor of English at Brown has stated that the "African-American Poetry fulltext database will provide students with an unprecedented opportunity to explore the riches of African-American poetry. It will, for example, allow students in the Chant of Saints course to investigate tradition and innovation in African-American literature by tracing themes, ideas, and words in the writings of poets from the 18th century up to the beginnings of modernism."
The Patrologia Latina Database, the second reference source in the package, contains the complete Patrologia Latina, which remains the standard reference for the majority of medieval authors. The PLD covers the Latin Fathers from Tertullian in 200 A.D. to Pope Innocent III in 12I6. It comprises 217 quarto volumes of texts and four volumes of indexes using the best editions available at the time. The PLD database includes the prefatory material, original texts, critical apparatus and indexes from the nineteenth century ecclesiastical publisher, Jacques-Paul Migne. The Patrologia Latina has always been a fundamental tool for scholars of patristic, theology, medieval history, or Latin, and experience has shown us that reference tools of this sort are even more valuable when they are available in electronic form, with sophisticated computer indexing and searching. Brown has purchased the CD-ROM format as well as Web access.
Although perhaps less dramatic than either LION or Patrologia Latina, the two additional databases acquired through Mr. Dupee's gift are no less useful to those seeking information of a particular kind. Archives USA includes collection records from the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (with the acronym NUCMC, this catalog of manuscript collections throughout the United States is known to librarians, affectionately, as "Nuck-Muck"), and from the National Inventory of Documentary Sources, United States (NIDS). Archives USA also provides a directory of manuscript repositories, giving full addresses, including e-mail and Worldwide Web "home page" addresses, as well as opening hours, details of holdings, and areas of special interest. The Brown Library's own manuscripts are included in Archives USA.
In speaking of Archives USA, Professor of History Michael Burlingame of Connecticut College, whose forthcoming biography of Abraham Lincoln is being researched at the John Hay Library, has noted that "I thought I knew the location of all the materials that I need to consult for my three-volume biography, but... Archives USA tipped me off to several previously unknown to me.... Archives USA is so comprehensive, so user-friendly, and so versatile that all serious scholars - and students - will bless its inventors for devising it and you for acquiring it."
The Periodical Contents Index is an electronic index to the contents of thousands of periodicals in the humanties and social sciences, from the first issue to 1990-91. The PCI is not limited to periodicals produced in the United States; it indexes journals in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and other Western languages. Currently, PCI indexes more than 7 million articles in 1,872 journals, and every year, 2 million more articles are added. Eventually, PCI plans to include 3,000 journals and citations for 15 million individual articles!
Libraries have always contained a great deal more information than was recognizable at first glance, but today's electronic resources vastly extend the scope and reach of even the largest libraries. Furthermore, these databases offer convenience and flexibility to the user which can hardly be over-emphasized; even if a library were fortunate enough to have all of these resources under its own roof, locating them in print resources would have required substantial time, effort, and travel among various physical locations. Electronic resources can be searched and manipulated in ways that are impossible with print; indeed, some of the research that is now routinely undertaken by scholars would quite literally have been impossible even as little as ten years ago. One particularly interesting point about the databases acquired through Mr. Dupee's gift is that they are, to a large extent, in support of the humanities; not so long ago, experts predicted that, although electronic resources might be useful to scientists, they would "never be accepted by humanists." Ironically, the scope and nature of the databases now available for use by humanists - twenty-one versions of the Bible, for example point not only to the value of this new format for scholarly information, but to the wisdom of having acquired and preserved the original print editions in the first place.
By Florence K. Doksansky
Associate University Librarian for Public Services and Collection Development