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Digit18 is a not for profit project that creates a digital platform providing links for digitized books of the 18th century. It uses collections constituted by Internet Archive, Europeana, etc. It ensures a way of finding accurate and complete information about antiquarian books, when the information based in the short-title catalogue of some libraries is insufficiently explicit or detailed. The project was initiated on the basis of research into counterfeit editions of 18th century literature based on material bibliography, and especially the comparison of ornaments (the Môriåne digital project, created at Liège University in the1980's with the help of the National Fund for Scientific Research). Most of the material produced is on: https://orbi.uliege.be.

Concerning the open-access information on Internet Archive, each record includes an appeal to write a footnote “Review”. Since bibliographic indications are sometimes incomplete, it seems useful to inscribe in the “Review” supplementary information expanding on what a short-title catalogue provides. This is the main task of the Digit18 enterprise. The notes on Internet Archives are available for everybody; those on Google, not open, may be obtained on demand (info@swedhs.org).

As it is explained on the site of Internet Archive (archive.org), I.A. “is a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more”. It offers material provided by numerous libraries in America, Canada and Europe, bringing into the public domain holdings that cover many facets of world life and scholarship. We give just a few examples of these sources below:
   The Canadian Libraries Collection on Internet Archive was created in 2005. It now includes collections from many universities such as those of Ottawa, Toronto, McGill, etc. Some libraries deserve special mention, like the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library in Toronto.
   The American Libraries Collection was created in 2006. The materiel comes from large libraries like the Library of Congress, but also from many university or public libraries that there is no space to mention here. 
   Created in 2008, the European Libraries Collection provides scans from very important institutions particularly rich in 18th-century books. In the context of the coming 15th International Congress on the Enlightenment in Edinburgh (14-19 July 2019),  it is appropriate to point out the contribution made by Scottish institutions: the National Library of Scotland, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow Library, etc. From another point of view, the medical documentation is impressive, thanks to the Wellcome Library's collections (which number more than 10 thousand items). As far as we have seen from personal use of I.A., the 18th century documentation provided by Italy, especially by the National Central Library of Florence, the National Library of Naples, etc is very important. We regret that some French institutions, like the Bibliothèque nationale, do not participate in the I.A.

Founding members

Daniel Droixhe
Daniel Droixhe is now Emeritus Professor of the Université Libre de Bruxelles and Honorary Lecturer at the Université de Lièg. In 2011, with M. Collart, he founded the Société wallonne d’étude du 18e siècle/ Walloon Society for the Study of the 18th cent. He is a member of the Académie Royale de Langue et de Littérature Françaises de Belgique and an Associate Member of the Centre interuniversitaire de recherche sur la première modernité (CIREM16-18, Canada). He plays traditional pre-war blues. Publications:

David Adams
David Adams, Emeritus Professor of French Enlightenment Studies, University of Manchester, School of Arts, Languages and Cultures. From 2008 to 2014, he has been responsible for the preparation of the bibliographies which form part of each volume of the Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, published by the Voltaire Foundation of the University of Oxford, and contributed articles and sections to a number of volumes in the series, notably vols. 43, 45a, 45b, 60c, 70a, 70b. He is a member of the Conseil Scientifique of the Voltaire Foundation.

Alice Piette-Droixhe
Alice Piette-Droixhe, technician. She was a nurse for more than 30 years; she has collaborated with her husband on the publication of his studies on medicine. She is deeply involved in the diffusion of Afro-American culture, and was one of the organizers of “Rue Mississippi”, that arranged blues-concerts and memorial events in the Liège area.

Muriel Collart
Muriel Collart is now Director of  the Librairie Wallonie-Bruxelles in Paris. After degrees obtained in law and communications at the Université de Liège, she worked at the same institution for the Groupe d’étude du 18e siècle, putting on line an Index de l’Esprit des journaux (1772-1789). She is a scientific collaborator at the Université Libre de Bruxelles; she is studying the historiography of climate, meteorology and environment, as a member of the scientific committee of the Collection Météo(s) published by Editions Hermann in Paris. She is also interested in book history and gastronomy. Publications:

Suggested reading

Johannes Goller (Zentrum für Informations- und Sprachverarbeitung Ludwig-Maximilan-University, Munich, Germany), “Creating a Library on the Web”, in Wissenschaftskommunikation im Netzwerk der Bibliotheken / Scholarly Communication in Libraries Networking, Berlin Bib Spider, 2005, p. 161-177.

Extract: “The world wide web is frequently considered as a giant fountain of helpful information and service. At the same time it is regarded as a vast source of misleading information and error. Turning it into something useful for education and knowledge transfer is an activity that can be compared with building a library from a previously unordered collection of books and articles : Items must be classified and catalogues of meta data must be compiled”. Among the “common problems and approaches”, we can distinguish three main requirements. “We probably wish that the search service associated to the ‘digital library on the web’ would behave like a perfect librarian, i.e. like a person who has complete knowledge about (a) the collections of the library, (b) the research topics covered by it, and who has (c) the ability to give useful answers to questions posed by human beings.ö Thus, one of “the three major tasks that need to be accomplished » would be: “select and aggregate material for inclusion ». That first goal « implies an answer to the questions of what is academically relevant and how to automatically identify such content in the web” (p. 161-162).
   “The creation of links (and similar ways of facilitating the navigation through large collections of documents) can be achieved in many different ways”, among which is the process of “extracting bibliographic references and turning them into ‘clickable’ links” (p. 163). Those links could be used by “finding scholarly papers related to a given topic or to another paper” (as in Citeseer. IST. Scientific literature digital library / http://www.researchindex.com). “A totally different approach to helping users to find their way through the vast amount of information available on the web is the idea of creating human-controlled catalogues that list for each topic links to web-pages that the creators of the catalogue found particularly useful” (as in the Open Directory Project / http://www.dmoz.org and the Yahoo ! Catalogue / http://www.yahoo.com; p. 170-171).
   “The data are generally available at various levels of quality, and the same applies to the availability of meta data for the documents. This has to be reflected in adjustments to the ranking, as well as by the normalization and extraction of metadata. (…) In particular, a data base is needed, containing author names, titles etc. of published documents, linking them to some sort of persistent identifier. The persistent identifier is then used as a unique reference ID for the document” (p. 174-175).

The identification of “academically relevant” data, with “author names, titles etc.”, the creation of “controlled catalogues”, the “normalization and extraction of meta data” may be considered as tasks implied by the Digit18 project.

Digit18 office

Rue d’Erquy 38
B-4680 Oupeye



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