Computers & Texts No. 16/17
Table of Contents
Winter 1998

News from the Oxford Text Archive


Michael Popham
Alan Morrison
Oxford Text Archive
University of Oxford

OTA Web site

The Oxford Text Archive continues to develop its Web site (, giving users immediate access to a growing body of online information -- in addition to our extensive collection of electronic textual resources, many of which are directly accessible through our new online catalogue. Users are able to access the first public edition of our Collections Policy, retrieve the component parts of the OTA's Depositors' Pack (fig.1), find out about the history and background of the OTA, and access information and software to support the creation of high-quality electronic textual resources which conform to the OTA's recommendations (fig.2).

[OTA Guidelines for Depositors]

Fig. 1. The OTA's new Web site at provides online user guides

[Build your own Pizza DTD]

Fig. 2. Users can now easily create their own tailor-made SGML-TEI Document Type Definition

The OTA's online catalogue has been dramatically improved to allow users to search our holdings in a variety of new and exciting ways. As well as conventional searching by author or title, it is now possible to select from the OTA's collection on the basis of genre, language, or period, using the information contained in the extensive metadata which accompanies each resource (fig.3). It will also be possible to identify a particular corpus of works within the OTA's collection (e.g. all the works by a particular author, or all those of a certain language and genre from a particular time period), and search across that corpus for particular terms.

The OTA's catalogue is also accessible through the Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS) prototype gateway ( which was launched at the beginning of December 1998. The gateway makes it possible to search the catalogued holdings of all the AHDS Service Providers using a single query. In addition, AHDS users may browse, order, or otherwise acquire access to data resources which are managed by the AHDS Service Providers. While the service is still in its development stage the AHDS urges users to test out the gateway and welcomes feedback on any aspect of the service.

[Searching for George Eliot]

Fig. 3. Searching the OTA catalogue for an author

[Fulltext of Mill on the Floss]

Fig. 4. Displaying the full text of George Eliot's Mill on the Floss

eLib Project

The OTA is playing a crucial role in the CURL Exemplar for Digital ARrchiveS (CEDARS) project, which aims to address the strategic, methodological and practical issues of long term digital preservation, and will provide guidance for libraries in best practice within this crucial and rapidly-expanding area. CEDARS is a three-year project, funded under Phase 3a of the eLib programme, and is based at three lead sites (Cambridge, Leeds, and Oxford). Deliverables include: guidelines for developing digital collection management policies to ensure the long-term viability of any digital resources included in a collection; demonstrator projects to test and promote the technical and organizational feasibility of the chosen strategy for digital preservation; methodological guidelines developed by the demonstrator projects providing guidance about how to preserve different classes of digital resources including detailed advice about appropriate storage media and back-up strategies and data formats; analysis of the cost implications of digital preservation.

Andy Stone was recently appointed as the Project Officer based within the OTA. Andy has particular expertise in metadata issues and cataloguing digital resources. We expect that a useful synergy will develop between the OTA's activities as an AHDS Service Provider, and its commitments to CEDARS. For more information see

New publications

Work is underway to produce the first two of the OTA's Guides to Good Practice, which will form part of an AHDS-wide series of publications. Creating and Documenting Electronic Texts, and Finding and Using Electronic Texts will be made available as online publications, accessible via the OTA's Web site. These publications are being written in-house by OTA staff, in consultation with a range of subject-specialists and experts in this area, and draw heavily upon the experiences and recommended practices adopted by the OTA after more than twenty years' operation as a provider of electronic texts.

New OTA Staff

The OTA has recently appointed two new members of staff. Karen Wikander comes to the OTA from the Etext Centre at the University of Virginia. Karen works half time for the OTA and half time for the English Faculty at Oxford. Her work for the OTA involves actively identifying and accessioning literary and linguistic corpora, and helping the OTA Information Officer with user enquiries. Karen will also assist the English Faculty to exploit the holdings of the OTA, and we hope to be able to use this work to develop demonstrators and case studies of interest to the wider community.

John Leedham started with the OTA in January, as the new Computing Officer. He is taking over the work started by Jakob Fix, and working mainly on developing access to the Text Archive's collections through SGML.

[Table of Contents] [Letter to the Editor]

Computers & Texts 16/17 (1998). Not to be republished in any form without the author's permission.

HTML Author: Michael Fraser
Document Created: 25 April 1998
Document Modified: 6 April 1999

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