3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

by Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us

July 15, 2002 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on July 15, 2002.

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3.00 FYI France: Ejournal and archive

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Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: kessler@well.sf.ca.us

Here this file is one of a number made available -- hopefully attractively, all in one place, and relevant to libraries and online digital information work in France and Europe -- as part of FYI France (sm)(tm), an online service to which anyone can subscribe for 12 months by postal mailing a check for US $45, payable to Jack Kessler, to PO Box 460668, San Francisco, California, USA 94146 (site licenses also are available): please write your email address on the front of your check. Please email suggestions for improvements to me at kessler@well.sf.ca.us


The new "Provenance" database at Lyon


The new "Provenance" database at Lyon,

which was announced on June 25, promises to be a very useful digital library addition to the growing international offering of online rare book tools and materials.

It's also fascinating: they have mounted the full exlibris online -- you can read the,

etc. onscreen in the original, print or manuscript versions, in good images which can be enlarged for very legible detail...


The Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon, which offers this new database and which houses one of France's finest collections of rare books, ancient manuscripts, and incunabula, has been a leader in the country's development of online and digital media. The BMLyon's current "Virtual Expositions" include, for example,

and BM Lyon databases exist online now for, among others,


Now comes "Provenance", to this already - superb online offering: the origins, of the BMLyon's justifiably famous collection of rare books --


Lyon is the place for this: a French city endowed with many very old and now several very new outstanding "rare books" resources --

-- plus there are wonderful walks in Lyon which can take you down by one of its two rivers, along the rue Mercière... where Sebastian Gryphe and the others worked to churn out the first products of this new media, occasionally throwing their old fonts and tools into the river, from which they now have been removed and preserved for your appreciation of the history -- remarkable place for anyone interested in early printing, and in the excitement of what in fact was a Silicon Valley of a previous era's "transition in media"...

-- also offering good food and wine and chocolate, too... -- so, anyone wishing an introduction to the history of printing not only in France but also in the world, now really can benefit from a stop in Lyon.


The Provenance des Livres Anciens database offers a pretty interesting oldest - exemplar, currently, which can provide an example of the richness of the information in the database:


Most wonderfully, perhaps, images taken from the works themselves are provided online: the exlibris, as mentioned, annotations -- good thumbnails, which can be expanded to offer detailed representations of the original. Scholars of various sorts may find these to be extremely useful. Scholars and mere students, moreover, even the beginners, can experience the thrill of seeing "the original": the database is image - oriented -- the dull listing of "who owned what when", in most other provenance accounts, is greatly enhanced here by reproducing the actual handwriting of the period in online images -- very exciting, to see the written script of the era in which the Torquemada was read, and perhaps even of the actual Cardinal who owned it.

Very useful links abound throughout: in the entry just - listed, for example, the square brackets lead to [* 8 doc.] 7 other examples of "Bible. A. T. Psaumes -- Critique, interprétation, etc", in the collection -- or to [* 23 doc.] 22 additional examples of the "Ecole Sainte - Geneviève (Paris)". Boolean searching is available via "Opérateurs" on the main screen.

The records contain no metadata, yet. Greater effort has to be devoted, by the international library community, to incorporating all of the riches of international librarianship into the metadata effort. The only way "the librarian as information filter" ever is going to work, is via an extraordinary effort to include everyone: the French, the Chinese, the Russians, and all of the many others who maintain valuable collections and information and now rapidly are bringing them to the Internet.

But standards efforts in other areas work well for the French, as they have elsewhere. This BMLyon "Provenance des Livres Anciens" project uses UNIMARC, and follows the IFLA UBCIM Programme standards both for bibliographic and authority records, and AFNOR rules for cataloging and establishing headings.

Some of the finest libraries now are making available their rare and ancient book treasures online -- bibliographic records, now provenance information, increasingly images and texts of the works themselves -- the Bayerische Staats-bibliothek, the University of California's Bancroft, the many fine projects of various national libraries and of the Research Libraries Group, now the BMLyon...

Perhaps there is some hope, then -- perhaps -- that future generations will know that there was a world of print, and of ideas and of their presentation, which preceded the television screen: a useful and at times critical antidote to any future world of digital "information overload". The BMLyon's "Provenance des Livres Anciens" will have helped significantly in this.




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M. Eiffel

Copyright © 1992- by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved.
W3 site maintained at http://www.fyifrance.com
Document maintained by: Jack Kessler, kessler@well.sf.ca.us
Last update: August 9, 2002