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Networking of Literary Archives (NOLA)

Libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions throughout Europe hold unpublished source material of great public as well as academic interest, yet to a large extent inaccessible to others than devoted and privileged specialists.

The role of NOLA is to help these institutions make their resources more easily accessible to researchers as well as to the general audience.

NOLA will focus on what may be called literary archives - the unpublished sources on major novelists, philosophers, musicians and painters. Some of these collections are kept by libraries, others by museums, archives and research institutions, in the private as well as in the public sector. NOLA will establish a common platform for cooperation on use of standards, tools and methods as well as the provision of mutual access to resources between libraries and other institutions.

The NOLA consortium will develop, implement and test tools, guidelines and procedures for the creation, management, analysis and dissemination of textual and multimedia primary sources for small and medium-sized literary archives.

A concrete product of NOLA is a home page on the World Wide Web which gives access to all the catalogues of the partners of the consortium, and via catalogues gives access to full texts etc.<>

NOLA will build upon the work already carried out by the EU-funded Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) in definining Guidelines for the encoding and interchange of the widest range of machine-readable resources.

The TEI is a major international project, with an unusually high degree of visibility, in North America and the Far East, as well as within Europe. It is the most successful attempt so far made to determine a comprehensive set of encoding standards, based on ISO standard SGML, which are of truly general applicability in realistically scaled projects.

The TEI recommendations for encoding and meta-description of manuscript materials will be the particular focus of NOLA, which will assess their suitability and recommend their extension and modification as necessary.

A major emphasis will be placed on development of procedures for the integration and use of TEI-aware tools for the creation, management, documentation, analysis and dissemination of archival resources. Such tools are already being developed by several of the participants, and other TEI users.

NOLA will contribute to this effort, but its main object will be to assess their usability and performance in real life conditions, in order to facilitate a comparative cost-benefit analysis of the organizational and economic aspects of this approach to the problems of networked resource description and resource provision.

The partners to the consortium are currently searching for funding of the project. However, some activities have already begun.

Updated 2 Dec. 1995 eso