The Combined Cairo Geniza

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Creating a digital library prototype

Creating a digital library prototype

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  • 1. The Combined Cairo Geniza Michael Zarro Drexel University http://mikezarro.com/geniza/index.php http://www.princeton.edu/~geniza/ http:// sceti.library.upenn.edu/genizah /
  • 2. The Cairo Geniza, a brief introduction
    • A geniza (or genizah) is a room which stores old texts and papers which are thought to hold the name of God for burial.
    • The Ben Ezra synagogue had such a room… and sealed the entrance for 1000 years. 9 to 19 th century.
    • Approximately 220,000 documents/fragments preserved, including many non-sacred texts.
  • 3.  
  • 4. The Cairo Geniza collections
    • Documents now used by Judaic scholars in Europe and N. America.
    • British Library
    • Jewish Theological Seminary (NY)
    • Cambridge University *140,000+ documents
    • University of Pennsylvania
    • Princeton – transcriptions only (4,000+)
    • And other institutions…
  • 5. Obvious Issues
    • Preservation of originals
    • Access for remote scholars
    • Consolidate disperse collections
    • Wayfinding within 200,000+ documents
    • Access points; genre, timeframe, keywords, author, etc…
  • 6. Cataloging the Geniza
    • “ Its contents are better described as ‘scattered’ than ‘distributed’”
    • “ institutions have come and gone; two world wars have been fought; and maps, states, governments, and ideologies have changed” - Lerner & Jerchower (2006)
    • 1886: Adolf Neubauer
    • 1921: Elkan Nathan Alder collection
  • 7. Cataloging Typology
    • Refers to the original, or earlier collection.
    • Example: Penn assigns “ Halper numbers ” after Benzion Halper’s: Descriptive catalogue of genizah fragments in Philadelphia (Philadelphia : Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning, 1924)
    • Princeton refers to the same objects with “ Dropsie numbers ” after the institution.
  • 8. The Princeton Geniza Project
    • Department of Near Eastern Studies
    • 1986
    • Funding: Princeton University, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, and from 2000 to 2005 by the Friedberg Genizah Project.
    • Dedicated to “creating a full text retrieval text-base of transcribed documents, developing new tools such as dictionaries, semantic categories and morphological aids to further the study of Geniza texts.”
  • 9. Princeton – original browser
    • Kedit/Semitic for DOS, line by line transcription
    • Today, unicode is used.
  • 10. Princeton – TextGarden
    • Holds transcriptions & photos, articles, etc…
    • User provided comments.
    • Documents continue to be stored line by line.
    • http:// gravitas.princeton.edu/tg/tt /
  • 11. Penn/Cambridge
    • University of Pennsylvania Library and the Taylor-Schechtor Genizah Research Unit of the Cambridge University Library
    • Funding: “a generous gift from Mr. Jeffrey Keil, Penn alumnus and member of the Penn Library's Board of Overseers”
  • 12. TextGarden Schema
    • <option value=&quot;22&quot;>dc:contributor</option>
    • <option value=&quot;30&quot;>dc:coverage</option>
    • <option value=&quot;18&quot;>dc:creator</option>
    • <option value=&quot;23&quot;>dc:date</option>
    • <option value=&quot;20&quot;>dc:description</option>
    • <option value=&quot;25&quot;>dc:format</option>
    • <option value=&quot;26&quot;>dc:identifier</option>
    • <option value=&quot;28&quot;>dc:language</option>
    • <option value=&quot;21&quot;>dc:publisher</option>
    • <option value=&quot;29&quot;>dc:relation</option>
    • <option value=&quot;31&quot;>dc:rights</option>
    • <option value=&quot;27&quot;>dc:source</option>
    • <option value=&quot;19&quot;>dc:subject</option>
    • <option value=&quot;17&quot;>dc:title</option>
    • <option value=&quot;24&quot;>dc:type</option>
    • <option value=&quot;35&quot;>tg:alias</option>
    • <option value=&quot;15&quot;>tg:genre</option>
    • <option value=&quot;5&quot;>tg:height</option>
    • <option value=&quot;14&quot;>tg:shelf mark</option>
    • <option value=&quot;34&quot;>tg:subtitle</option>
    • <option value=&quot;6&quot;>tg:weight</option>
    • <option value=&quot;32&quot;>tg:year born</option>
    • <option value=&quot;33&quot;>tg:year died</option>
  • 13.
    • Example: http:// sceti.library.upenn.edu/pages/index.cfm?so_id =2362
  • 14. Combined Geniza
    • Princeton “The project is committed to disseminating its materials as widely as possible to the international community of scholars with an interest in the life of the medieval Middle East, as well as to all with an interest in Judaica.
    • Penn/Cambridge “This web site is an evolving project. Its size and functionality will continue to grow and improve with time, experience, and additional partners.”
    Fulfilling the mission of both institutions….
  • 15. Combined Geniza
    • Fulfills desire of both projects to serve the community of scholars, and public.
    • Provides additional access points.
    • Aggregation of multiple digital library holdings… a record of records
  • 16. Combined Geniza
    • http:// mikezarro.com/geniza/index.php
  • 17. Shared Metadata DC: contributor/ coverage /creator/ format /identifier/ publisher /rights/ source /subject language language language date date date owned by description [provenance] described by type subject [topical terms] text text relation Identifier [Uniform Resource Identifier for facsimile] description description title [Varying Form of] & description [general notes] main title title recordTitle Princeton Combined Penn/Cambridge
  • 18. Lessons Learned (1/3)
    • Requires robust networking technology
    • Collaboration between geographically separated groups.
    • Collaboration between professionals with differing viewpoints and ideas: professors/students, librarians, and Information Services staff.
    • Flexibility
    • Staff turnover
  • 19. Lessons Learned (2/3)
    • Use crosswalks and/or computer programming to combine metadata
    • Know what you are describing 1) original ? 2) digital surrogate ? 3) transcription ?
  • 20. Lessons Learned (3/3)
    • It could really be quite easy Once you know what you’re doing…. And where…. And with whom… And for whom… And who’s paying for it…
  • 21. Conclusion 800 - 1800 a.d. 2007 1985-2005