A new website on the block is The Jane Austen Digital Library. Created by Kristin Whitman, a student in the Masters of Library and Information Science at Rutgers University, it includes a collection of free resources on the web related to Jane Austen, her works, her life and socio-cultural impact. The main page is The Jane Austen Search Engine, a starting point for Jane Austen researchers including: digital online texts of her works, critical analysis, online discussion and yep, Austen related blogs. Kristin attempts to disarm reproof from her fellow academics and other skeptics for including blogs with this disclaimer:
The decision to include fan generated content and personal webpages related to Jane Austen in this search engine was not an easy one. It is not my desire to direct young students interested in Jane Austen to materials on the web which may not offer completely reliable information. However, I feel that the fan content about Austen on the web has value from a sociological, cultural, and historical perspective, and those wishing to study the recent explosion of interest in Austen’s life and works will also find it useful to search through the materials generated by Austen fans in our modern internet age. The inclusion of a page in the Jane Austen index is not an endorsement of the quality of the factual information on that page.
Hate to pull you out of your ivory tower, but academics get it wrong sometimes too. However, in the spirit of Her Janeness we will secretly smile and acknowledge that we now know what it feels like to be a lab rat in the sociological, cultural and historical realm of the Jane Austen blog-o-sphere. Since Austen fans are known for their sense of humor we can only throw up are hands and exclaim, “What a good joke it will be! I can hardly write for laughing.” We feel honored that Austenprose’s RSS feed is featured prominently on the main page and now must really watch our P’s & Q’s since we could be being monitered by academics in a case study. ;-) Can we be graded on a curve?