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PhiloBiblon, Information Technology, and Medieval Spanish Literature: A Balance Sheet


This paper brings up to date my “Desiderata para el estudio de las literaturas hispánicas medievales,” in Medioevo y literatura. Actas del V Congreso de la Asociación Hispánica de Literatura Medieval (Granada, 27 septiembre – 1 octubre 1993), ed. by Juan Paredes, 4 vols. (Granada: Universidad de Granada, 1995, I, pp. 93-107.

          It begins with a succinct history of the development of PhiloBiblon from its origins at the University of Wisconsin as the Bibliography of Old Spanish Texts (BOOST) in 1975 to its current implementation as an online multilingual database (Catalan, Spanish, Portuguese, Galician). In the future PhiloBiblon will be enriched, most importantly, through first-hand inspection of primary sources and by making use of the increasing number of secondary and tertiary  sources now available on line.

          This leads to a consideration of the current state of information technology and medieval studies. The internet has revolutionized the way most scholars conduct research but it has not yet led to any significant change in he distribution of scholarship: the printed book is still coin of the realm, especially in Spain, where digital scholarship simply does not count in the evaluation of méritos.

          The paper then reviews the kinds of information resources currently available on the web, e.g., union catalogs of printed books and manuscripts, digital libraries of texts and facsimiles, generally from a given institution. There are as yet few examples of archives of both digital image and text.

          The last part reviews the desiderata mentioned in my 1992 paper, most of which are still wanting: repertories of dated and datable texts and manuscripts; codicological and paleographic databases for the study of paper, watermarks, ink, pigments, hands; tools for image analysis; repertories of the inventories of medieval libraries, prosopographical repertories, tools for and examples of digital editions. The primary need, however, for any web-based resource, is a secure home that will take responsibility for its maintenance and allow for continuous incremental improvement.

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