Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ye Olde Archery Digital Library

The Archery Library describes itself as an online library containing digital versions of old archery books, prints and articles from times past. First of all, I should mention that the Archery Library seems more or less to be fairly amateur in its construction. It does call itself a non-profit and mentions that the proceeds of the google ads on the site go to site maintenance. This makes sense for a site devoted primarily to dated books on an activity that is essentially a hobby.

Despite its relatively amateur execution, the Archery Library possesses clear collection principles. It seeks to provide digitized texts related to the practice of archery. Sadly, however, the collection is not very large. (17 books, 8 articles, and 10 prints) Furthermore, the books and articles have been digitized as transcripts only which I find disappointing since the mostly encompasses publications from before 1900 with a couple of items dating from the Sixteenth Century! The most impressive object in the collection is Roger Ascham's Toxophilus, the fchole of fhootinge conteyned in tvvo bookes from 1565, albeit from an 1864 reprint. Unfortunately, the early modern English spellings are not quite as impressive in transcribed text as they would be with the use of appropriate characters, but again the site does seem rather on the amateur side. It was also created fairly early in the internet era (1996.)

The most disappointing feature of the site is its lack of metadata. This also stems, I feel, from the fact that this is an amateur site dedicated to a hobby containing objects from a personal collection. This would explain why many of the prints on the site contain only "origin unkown" as metadata. Still, the lack of metadata is particularly troubling for books. Only the author is mentioned consistently, and sometimes the edition. Nothing is said of even place of publication. Also, the site's curation is minimal. The FAQ hasn't been updated since the '90s. Objects are divided merely into books, articles, and prints (using an evolutionary ancestor of greenstone's?) and the only search function included is google search. A google search for "Agincourt" within the library site returned four pages of hits. I guess Agincourt was rather the high water mark for archers. Speaking of watermarks, the objects in the Archery Library all have them, which I find drastically out of place with the otherwise amateur hobbyish tone of the site. It is clear that the intended audience of the site is primarily hobbyists and archery enthusiasts.

As a digital library, the Archery Library receives pretty low marks. As an example of what one person can do with a computer, a hobby, and a personal collection in their spare time (in 1996, no less!) the Archery Library assumes more interest.

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