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“Digital Heritage” Conference, 2013

Shani Evenstein
Chief Editor, Project Ben-Yehuda
editor@benyehuda.org
www.benyehuda.org
 Creating

and maintaining a free for use,
volunteer-based, online library of Hebrew
literature
• Diverse Genres: prose, poetry, drama, articles,
essays, letters, translations, etc.
• Free: for any use, including commercial use; mostly
public domain, not copyrighted.
• Volunteer-Based: all texts are produced and edited
by volunteers.

 Founded

in 1999, inspired by the English
“Project Gutenberg”
 Books

–

• Physical and perishable
• Bound by supply and demand rules
• Lack of financial incentive – prevents public access to the

full corpus of Hebrew writings
 Libraries

–

• Withdraw books from their collections
• Libraries abroad - limited inventory
• Disadvantaged social groups - limited access to resources
 Preservation

institutions / government –

• Unable [and /or uninterested] to do the work needed
 Advanced

research –

• dependent on digital availability
An old book eaten by pests
A free digital library of
Hebrew literature!


Unlimited, free access



Unlimited space, minimal storage costs



Backup and content preservation



Available for digital or mechanized processing



Gradual expansion of the database, no timetable



On-line management of volunteers and logistics
 Bibliographic research
 Scanning
 Typing
 Proofreading
 Layout

& web upload

 Collaborations
 Lecturing

 Fundraising

All done by volunteers!


Public domain texts



Copyrighted texts - about to expire in the next 3
years



Copyrighted texts - with special permission to use



Requests from the public



Public preferences



Positive Discrimination - emphasis on women
writers
Over 8000 works by over 170 authors
 About 200 *active* volunteers
 Over 1000 volunteers since 1999
 3 chief editors
 2 volunteer coordinators! (new)


 And

day)



-- 635,000 hits per month (128,000 per

Our volunteers come from all age groups and vocations
• More women than men
• More text-intensive professions (librarians, translators, editors, typists,

etc)
 Teachers,

lecturers and students; cited as a
source in both syllabi and academic papers
 Musicians and artists - choose texts to
compose, perform or simply for inspiration
 Editors and translators
 Language lab
 But most importantly - simply people, the
public at large, not only in Israel but around
the world


Main Goals achieved –
• Preservation
• Accessibility
• Exposure
• New volunteers on a weekly basis without PR



Unique achievements –
• Compiling text for the first time

• Publishing texts for the first time
• Enabling new research in Hebrew


Strong presence online for Hebrew readers –
• Collaborations with scholars and researchers
• collaborations with NLI, Wikipedia, Digital Humanities



Generating good will and inspiration

And it’s only 14 years old.. 
 Unintentional

creation of a new Hebrew

literary canon
 Non

religious texts

 Non

academic project

Solutions:
- Better definition of the project and its scope
- Growing collaborations with the academic
community – lectures, women writers project
Israeli Copyrights law
+
Libraries “weeding out” collections +
No financial incentive
=
A huge portion of the Hebrew Corpus is
unavailable, simply non-existent.
Solutions –




Getting special permissions to publish copyrighted texts
from copyright holders
Efforts to publish texts that haven’t been published yet
Copyright status can be ambiguous; an intractable status
of some authors’ corpora copyright; pseudonyms 
working to change the Israeli law


Technology enhancements –
• Developing our Tasks management system – volunteers & editors
• Developing Project Ben-Yehuda main site – search, semantic, rich
database, supporting electronic readers, personalization..
• Developing the EBY Dictionary - ebydict.benyehuda.org
• Developing a wiki for dev. shared with the public – wiki.benyehuda.org



Fundraising –
• Technological solutions
• Compilation projects
• Exposure projects



Texts Accessibility & Exposure • More volunteers - more texts

• Exposure via lectures and collaborations
• Exposure via social media – blog, FB, YouTube
ebydict.benyehuda.org
http://www.youtube.com/user/ProjectBenYehuda
http://www.youtube.com/user/ProjectBenYehuda
Celebrating “Public Domain” Day:
the release of Tchernichovsky’s writings

on January 2014!
http://www.thedigin.org/thatcamphaifa/
What Bialik inferred in 1921 is still relevant today –

“All this important work – that of Education and
Literature – depended on the volunteer work of
individuals.”
– ‫"כל העבודה החשובה הזו – עבודת החנּו ך והִרוות‬
ִ
ִ
".‫היתה תלויה בהתנדבותם של יחידים‬
)‫(חנ"ב, "על התובות העבוית", תור"א‬
http://benyehuda.org/bialik/dvarim06.html
Shani Evenstein
Chief Editor, Project Ben-Yehuda
editor@benyehuda.org

www.benyehuda.org

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E2 shani eventstein_projectbenyehuda

  • 1. “Digital Heritage” Conference, 2013 Shani Evenstein Chief Editor, Project Ben-Yehuda editor@benyehuda.org
  • 3.  Creating and maintaining a free for use, volunteer-based, online library of Hebrew literature • Diverse Genres: prose, poetry, drama, articles, essays, letters, translations, etc. • Free: for any use, including commercial use; mostly public domain, not copyrighted. • Volunteer-Based: all texts are produced and edited by volunteers.  Founded in 1999, inspired by the English “Project Gutenberg”
  • 4.  Books – • Physical and perishable • Bound by supply and demand rules • Lack of financial incentive – prevents public access to the full corpus of Hebrew writings  Libraries – • Withdraw books from their collections • Libraries abroad - limited inventory • Disadvantaged social groups - limited access to resources  Preservation institutions / government – • Unable [and /or uninterested] to do the work needed  Advanced research – • dependent on digital availability
  • 5. An old book eaten by pests
  • 6. A free digital library of Hebrew literature!  Unlimited, free access  Unlimited space, minimal storage costs  Backup and content preservation  Available for digital or mechanized processing  Gradual expansion of the database, no timetable  On-line management of volunteers and logistics
  • 7.  Bibliographic research  Scanning  Typing  Proofreading  Layout & web upload  Collaborations  Lecturing  Fundraising All done by volunteers!
  • 8.  Public domain texts  Copyrighted texts - about to expire in the next 3 years  Copyrighted texts - with special permission to use  Requests from the public  Public preferences  Positive Discrimination - emphasis on women writers
  • 9. Over 8000 works by over 170 authors  About 200 *active* volunteers  Over 1000 volunteers since 1999  3 chief editors  2 volunteer coordinators! (new)   And day)  -- 635,000 hits per month (128,000 per Our volunteers come from all age groups and vocations • More women than men • More text-intensive professions (librarians, translators, editors, typists, etc)
  • 10.
  • 11.  Teachers, lecturers and students; cited as a source in both syllabi and academic papers  Musicians and artists - choose texts to compose, perform or simply for inspiration  Editors and translators  Language lab  But most importantly - simply people, the public at large, not only in Israel but around the world
  • 12.  Main Goals achieved – • Preservation • Accessibility • Exposure • New volunteers on a weekly basis without PR  Unique achievements – • Compiling text for the first time • Publishing texts for the first time • Enabling new research in Hebrew  Strong presence online for Hebrew readers – • Collaborations with scholars and researchers • collaborations with NLI, Wikipedia, Digital Humanities  Generating good will and inspiration And it’s only 14 years old.. 
  • 13.
  • 14.  Unintentional creation of a new Hebrew literary canon  Non religious texts  Non academic project Solutions: - Better definition of the project and its scope - Growing collaborations with the academic community – lectures, women writers project
  • 15. Israeli Copyrights law + Libraries “weeding out” collections + No financial incentive = A huge portion of the Hebrew Corpus is unavailable, simply non-existent. Solutions –    Getting special permissions to publish copyrighted texts from copyright holders Efforts to publish texts that haven’t been published yet Copyright status can be ambiguous; an intractable status of some authors’ corpora copyright; pseudonyms  working to change the Israeli law
  • 16.  Technology enhancements – • Developing our Tasks management system – volunteers & editors • Developing Project Ben-Yehuda main site – search, semantic, rich database, supporting electronic readers, personalization.. • Developing the EBY Dictionary - ebydict.benyehuda.org • Developing a wiki for dev. shared with the public – wiki.benyehuda.org  Fundraising – • Technological solutions • Compilation projects • Exposure projects  Texts Accessibility & Exposure • More volunteers - more texts • Exposure via lectures and collaborations • Exposure via social media – blog, FB, YouTube
  • 20. Celebrating “Public Domain” Day: the release of Tchernichovsky’s writings on January 2014!
  • 22. What Bialik inferred in 1921 is still relevant today – “All this important work – that of Education and Literature – depended on the volunteer work of individuals.” – ‫"כל העבודה החשובה הזו – עבודת החנּו ך והִרוות‬ ִ ִ ".‫היתה תלויה בהתנדבותם של יחידים‬ )‫(חנ"ב, "על התובות העבוית", תור"א‬ http://benyehuda.org/bialik/dvarim06.html
  • 23. Shani Evenstein Chief Editor, Project Ben-Yehuda editor@benyehuda.org www.benyehuda.org