Wednesday, April 15, 2009


CELT, an acronym for corpus of electronic texts, purports to "bring the wealth of Irish literary and historical culture to the Internet, for the use and benefit of everyone worldwide." CELT is a joint venture of the Department of History and Computer Centre of University College Cork.

The collection focuses solely on texts. The texts were chosen to convey Irish culture and history to both scholarly and general audiences, and as such are taken from documents in multiple languages, including Irish, English, Hiberno-Norman French, and Latin. The collection is well maintained and is still actively being increased. The site mentions that as of April 7, 2009, the collection comprises 1045 texts.

Sadly, CELT is not satisfactorily curated. The objects are not placed in any sort of exhibit, and the only browsing feature available is to enter the collection via language of text you are looking for. There is a search function to the site, which uses Google's custom search. However, objects found by the search appear on your screen with no metadata other than title and no way to get at the metadata.

This brings me to the objects themselves. All of the texts are available as transcriptions only. There are no scanned images of, for instance, early medieval scrolls hand-written by Irish monks, which I find highly disappointing. The transcribed texts are marked up in accordance with the TEI, which is something I guess, but I really would have liked to see images of the original documents.

When accessing objects through the browsing feature, one has the option to see the full metadata, which is actually quite impressive. It includes not only the metadata for the source object, but also the digital provenance and metadata for the mark-up and all revisions therof. It would have been nice to have this information also available through the search function.

CELT remains very much a work in progress. It has a lot of potential but has yet to live up to it.

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