RLI 287  19 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC 2015 research libraries or assessing the financial hurdles to establishing electronic libraries. The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation helped fund projects that created digital versions of primary materials ranging from medieval and early modern manuscripts to early American fiction or varieties of cultural heritage materials including letters and diaries. The Mellon Foundation moved from its study of the economics of research libraries to projects such as the Online Books Evaluation Project (1994–2000), which sought to forecast the processes needed to create a digital library, and a number of more recent projects to evaluate digital monograph production. While the foundation began to first consider what kind of infrastructure would be needed to support digital books it also started to explore a variety of methods to produce such materials, including the humanities scholarship most threatened by the monograph crisis. Over the past twenty years a number of projects have helped to produce online long-form works: e-texts and digital versions of texts digitized print monographs developing specialized tools and techniques to mark-up electronic texts print born-digital monographs the first electronic press software systems and the early-stage development of digital press infrastructure, some of it aligned with the open access movement. E-Texts and Digitized Versions of Books The earliest electronic (ASCII) texts were products of Michael Hart’s Project Gutenberg, started in 1971, with later additions to the digital corpus made by projects such as the MIT-based Shakespeare Digital Archive beginning in 1992, but digital monographs lagged behind. The efforts to develop e-texts have grown (if not matured) with the World Wide Web and gained substance from technological innovations in digital media. The Library of Congress ran its pilot program for what would become the American Memory project from 1990 to 1994, when it became the National Digital Library Program and was supported by Congressional and private funds for the next six years of its development its collections include digitized texts.10 Shortly thereafter, in their 1999 annual report, Mellon emphasized its continued and growing focus on the impact of information technology (especially digitization) on scholarship, scholarly communication, and libraries. That year the Mellon Foundation supported the American Historical Association’s efforts to produce electronic versions of doctoral dissertations with an emphasis on the potential benefit that electronic manuscripts could be more easily used by future scholars. Mellon also helped fund a project by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) to digitize a backlist of 500 titles (primarily monographs) and promote a database that would make these works available by subscription. Similar grants helped the Oxford University Press begin its own digital library of 1,500 volumes and the University of Virginia digitize a number of early editions of American literature.11 Between the years 1995 and 2000 the number of Internet users exploded from 16 to nearly 400 million.12 The proliferation of websites and digital resources also grew rapidly, shifting from government and higher education to commercial pursuits until the dot-com bubble burst. Other large-scale projects include what began as the Google Book Search Project in 2002, to become the “Google Print” Library Project in 2004, whose initial collaboration has grown from Google and a small number of university and commercial presses to include over 100 participants drawn from American, Canadian, British, and European members and is now known as the Google service, Google Books.13
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