Unlocking the English Short Title Catalogue: New Tools for Early Modern and 18th-Century Bibliography and Book History

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The English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) is the most comprehensive guide available to books published in the English-speaking world during the era of handpress printing. With nearly 500,000 bibliographic records and information on more than three million library holdings, it is both the best census that we have of early British and American print and the best available guide to locating extant copies of those items.

Begun in the late 1970s, the ESTC was conceived from the first as an electronic resource, one that would leverage new developments in library technology to facilitate collaboration among scholars and librarians worldwide and one—crucially—that could be continuously revised and refined. In recent years, however, it has become clear that the ESTC is in need of fundamental transformation if it is to keep pace with a scholarly landscape that is being transformed by digitization. 
Professor Pauley’s talk will highlight the challenges and opportunities facing the ESTC in its fourth decade, and will present the recommendations of a Mellon-funded planning committee for redesigning the ESTC as a 21st-century research tool. As envisioned, the new ESTC will stand at the intersection of librarianship, bibliography, and the digital Humanities, facilitating new kinds of enquiry in fields such as literary and cultural history, bibliography, and the history of the book.
Please join us Thursday, January 10, 3:30-5:00 p.m., in the Northwestern University Library Forum Room. Refreshments will be served.
This event is sponsored by Northwestern University Library’s Center for Scholarly Communication and Digital Curation, NUL Special Libraries, and WCAS Department of English.
Professor Ben Pauley (Ph.D. Northwestern, 2004) specializes in eighteenth-century literature, with an emphasis on the works of Daniel Defoe. In addition to publishing essays and presenting papers in eighteenth-century literary studies, he has been involved in several digital projects, particularly concerning bibliography. He is the editor and administrator of Eighteenth-Century Book Tracker, an index of freely-available facsimiles of eighteenth-century editions. He was co-principal investigator, with Brian Geiger (Director, Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research, University of California-Riverside), of “Early Modern Books Metadata in Google Books,” a recipient of a Google Digital Humanities Research Award for 2010–11 and 2011-12. He is a member of the board of the Defoe Society, serves on the technical review board for 18thConnect, and is an advisor to the recently-launched 18th-Century Common, a public Humanities portal for research in eighteenth-century studies.
ALSO PLAN TO ATTEND Ben Pauley’s NUDHL research workshop at the Kaplan Institute for the Humanities on Friday, January 11, from 12 to 2 pm in the Kaplan seminar room, Kresge 2-360. His topic: “Building New Tools for Digital Bibliography: Constructing a Defoe Attributions Database for the Defoe Society,” which will provide a concrete look at the kinds of work that the new ESTC will facilitate.