Google Books Poised to Swell Collection of 18th Century Dutch Theology

It’s no secret that Google has large plans for book digitization. Three years ago the company was reported to have had the ambitious goal of digitizing the 129+ million books thought to be in existence within the coming decade. Although the Chronicle of Higher Education reported in March 2012 that Google was scaling back book digitization at partner institutions in the United States, the same report noted that “[s]ome of its digitization efforts have shifted to Europe.” If Google has shifted its efforts to European libraries, early modern historians have cause to rejoice. Indeed, at least in the case of Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB; National Library of the Netherlands), which partnered with Google in 2010 to digitize 160,000 public domain books from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, book digitization appears to be accelerating.

With most of Google’s partner libraries, it is impossible to know what books are in the process of being digitized. However, the KB catalogue offers a glimpse of books currently tagged for digitization. In order to inform its patrons that a book has been pulled from the shelf, the librarians at KB have added a note: “This book is temporarily unavailable due to digitization.” (“Dit boek is tijdelijk niet beschikbaar vanwege digitalisering.”) A search for this phrase turns up books in the catalogue that either have been recently digitized or will be digitized in the coming months. As of today, there are in the queue over 38,000 titles from the eighteenth century (1700-1799) and 13,000 titles from the nineteenth century (1800-1899).

For users of the Junius Institute’s Post-Reformation Digital Library, this means that in the coming months the collection of available eighteenth-century Dutch theological works is set to rapidly expand. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of theological works from Dutch Reformed authors will become available in a relatively short period of time. Among these are numerous works by pastors associated with the so-called Nadere Reformatie or “Further Reformation,” including multiple editions of Aegidius Francken’s Kern der Christelyke Leere, which served as a textbook at Calvin Theological Seminary in the nineteenth century. Below is a sampling of links to Reformed theologians with titles set aside to be digitized in the KB catalogue. Taken together, this short list alone represents over 500 digitized titles on the horizon.

Leiden Professors:

Utrecht Professors:

Franeker Professors:

Groningen Professors:

Nadere Reformatie Pastors:

Ask and It Shall Be Given…

Klaus Graf got the following positive response from Lara Unger, Digital Conversion Supervisor, in reply to his request about moving up items in the digital queue at the University of Michigan:

In fact, we frequently digitize materials for scholars in Europe, particularly music scores. We do have a limit per month per requestor, and how long it takes is dependent on what other projects are being worked on, vacations, etc.

It can take anywhere from a week to 4 or more weeks.

The University has plans to digitize the majority of the materials in its collections. This is why we can agree to not charge for the service, we are going to digitize it anyway, its just a question of when it gets in the queue. A patron request moves an volume up to the front of the line.

I have heard similar anecdotes elsewhere. So when in doubt, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Google Books, by the by, seems to still have a mechanism for suggesting corrections or rescans for the numerous problems that appear in their books. The older method was convenient, but seems to have been phased out in the new interface. Now, if you try to click on “Help” when viewing a book page (available under the “gear” dropdown menu on the top right when navigating in a book), there is a link under “Help” for “Known Issues – Books,” under which there is another set of menus under “Book quality issues.” If you click on that, you can click on “Book has missing pages, typos, or other kinds of error,” which recommends reporting the error(s) via a form. The form doesn’t seem to work, however.

You can get to this page from other places on Google Books, but it seems to be intended for authors and copyright holders. Also, I recommend using the report error features on Google Books judiciously. Google has been known to pull the entire book out of digital circulation while addressing the reported error. So make sure you’ve gotten whatever copy you need to use in the meantime if it is a source that you want to have access to while any bad scan issues are being addressed.

The Mutilation of De Monetae Mutatione

JuanDeMarianaSome years ago I was working on the publication of a short translation of the Jesuit scholar Juan de Mariana’s De monetae mutatione. Back when the original translation had been commissioned, one of the only readily available domestic copy of this seventeenth-century treatise was held at the Boston public library. The translator, Fr. Patrick T. Brannan, worked off of that manuscript in producing the translation.

As I worked on editing the text for further publication, I needed to consult the original to clear up a few editorial queries. But I did not have a copy of the treatise by Mariana easily at hand to do some comparison. So naturally I went over to the Post-Reformation Digital Library to see if the original was listed among the site’s contents.

I was not disappointed. There were in fact multiple copies of the collection of treatises which included De monetae. Mariana’s treatise, De monetae mutatione, was the fourth of seven treatises published together in 1609 in Cologne. Via the PRDL I quickly downloaded a version.
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