ATLAS (American Theological Library Association Serials Project) is "an undertaking by the American Theological Library Association. Its purpose is to digitize 50 years' worth of 50 journals that deal with the academic study of religion and make them accessible from the Web. Approximately 50 of 600 journals indexed by ATLA have been selected in the following six areas: (1) Bible, Archaeology, and Antiquities; (2) Theology, Philosophy, and Ethics; (3) Religions and Religious Studies; (4) Pastoral Ministry; (5) History, Missions, and Ecumenism; and (6) Human Culture and Society. ATLAS is the ATLA Association's first major digital full-text journal project created for religious scholars by religious scholars. The project is designed to provide colleges, universities, theological schools, and individual scholars with the emerging electronic resources available in other disciplines, but currently lacking in the disciplines of theology. In some cases, where a journal as been in existence for more than 50 years, ATLAS may include the entire run of the journal. On May 20, 1999, ATLA announced that it had received a grant from the Lilly Foundation to develop and sustain the ATLAS project for three years."
The journals selected for the ATLAS project are to be "digitized into two formats: encapsulated images and fully encoded texts. In the first case, page images of each journal are wrapped in a metadata 'envelope' that allow users to search the collection for articles written by particular authors, that contain certain words in the title, that deal with specific topics, or that treat selected passages of various religious texts. Page images with XML envelopes (using Ebind) are available first, since preparation time is so short - relatively speaking - for this format. High resolution versions of the images are archived for preservation purposes. In the second case, the journals are encoded in XML, in a DTD related to the SGML, TEI DTD. The XML browsers that are being developed currently may be available to scholars shortly. But it is possible that on the fly translation from XML to HTML will be necessary as a short-term solution for scholars whose Web browsers will not read XML. The fully encoded texts allow users to search on all these fields and more! Furthermore, users are able to perform simple full text searches, Boolean searches (i.e., using AND, OR, and NOT), and proximity searches (i.e., 'Word A within 10 words of Word B'). The search engine itself is based on the ATLA Religion Database - the information found in Religion Index One - the most extensive and highly regarded index of religious periodical literature published. Selected electronic journals are included also in the ATLAS project." John Robert Gardner of the ATLAS project recently posted an announcement describing some details of the project scope, together with its current [1999-10-07] research questions.
[November 13, 2000] "The American Theological Library Association and The American Schools of Oriental Research are pleased to announce that ATLAS, the first major digital journal project created for religion scholars by religion scholars, will be available in January 2001. The ATLAS collection will include more than fifty of the leading journals from all areas of theology and religion, including Near Eastern Archaeology. See the most current list of journals online.