Follow Friday: The Jane Austen Digital Library

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?

8 thoughts on “Follow Friday: The Jane Austen Digital Library

  1. What a very interesting resource.Thanks for bringing it to our attention Laurel. How sad though, that as far as I can see only one UK JAne Austen inspired blog is thought worthy of inclusion…we are obviously not thought of as worthy of comment:-(

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    • Laurie, must agree. More UK presence please. Your excellent blog should be front and center. It is an incredible Regency & Georgian resource for students and enthusiasts. Brava!

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  2. Laurel Ann, thank you for this kind write-up. I’m glad you enjoy the search engine.

    jfwakefield, let me address your concern about the UK Austen community by explaining a little more about what this site is. This was a semester-long assignment I did for a class. In fact, due to some personal circumstances I was not able to work on it and research available blogs as completely as my usual sense of thoroughness (and my level of interest) would have demanded. In other words, I worked desperately to finish this site to get my grade and pass my class. The choices of the blogs to go on the RSS feed reflect nothing else than my own favorite Austen blogs to visit.

    Now, I hope this doesn’t make Laurel Ann feel any less special, because I love her blog and I read it all the time. However, I want to let the Austen community know that there was no idea of favoritism, no conscious decision on my part to exclude any blog, just the needs of a desperate student trying to get an assignment in on time.

    That said I do love the idea of the site and want to improve on it. I really wanted the RSS feed to be an aggregation/amalgamation of all blogs, but there was a technical limitation that I could not overcome, so I settled for 6 RSS feeds. I really would like to aggregate all posts about Austen works in real time but could not figure out how to do it.

    I hope this clarifies the ideas behind the site a little better. Just a pet project for school, done on a deadline – NOT any judgement on anyone’s blog. Very sorry for any confusion or hurt feelings.

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  3. Interesting that she seems to have totally missed Molland’s e-texts page, which I would think would have SOME redeeming value to academics. (As a matter of fact, I know it does, because they tell me so.)

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