In May, the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies released The Portal to Jesuit Studies, a new research resource that provides “free online access to the some of the richest content associated with the history, spirituality, educational heritage, and pedagogical approach of the Society of Jesus.” The Libraries were very pleased to have provided collaborative assistance to the Institute in this endeavor, which drew upon both deep content knowledge and technical expertise in a way that typifies the generation of quality disciplinary research resources online.
The rich collections of Jesuit material in the BC Libraries, particularly the John J. Burns Library, were a basis for the research segment of the site, which includes searchable access to the Jesuit Online Library and the Jesuitica Directory. Digital Library programs teamed with Seth Meehan, an associate director at the Institute, to scan key volumes and image processing, enabling searchability and online access. The Libraries started selection and imaging of Jesuitica in 2007 as part of the core, ongoing undertaking to capture distinctive BC content digitally. But with the development of the Portal, efforts focused and, in just spring of this year, over 21,533 pages of library materials were digitized, and digital access was provided to another 9,564 pages for a total of 31,097 pages across 43 volumes. In all, the Jesuit Online Library allows searching across nearly 100,000 pages in 700 volumes. Other library areas contributed expertise. Staff within the Systems office lent support, technical assistance, and advice that informed work with vendors and contributed to the ultimate website. Digital scholarship tools are being considered for future projects. As content in the site continues to grow, new materials will be made available and new technologies integrated.
“Libraries staff played indispensable roles in the development of the Portal,” states Meehan. “In short, without their time and expertise (and patience), the project would not have been possible. I am grateful to them and to you for the experience of working with them.”