Online Resource Library hits 10,000 pages and 200 publications.
James Barry scanning documents.
"I'll stop when the we run out of Unitarian publications or the internet is full!" said James Barry as he finished scanning the 200th book to go on to the Unitarian Document Library. The resource is already proving popular with many different users of the Unitarian national website. Family researchers, historians, ministerial students and those searching information on liberal religions, are all finding useful material in the new online facility.
"It seemed such a waste having so many good publications hidden away at Unitarian Headquarters" James continued, explaining the motivation behind the project that has now seen over 10,000 pages scanned. "I think we are the first denomination to make our portfolio freely available in this way and as we have been around so long, it's a fair size back catalogue! I am still finding new books each week of course, but the numbers are reducing and I think I have found the majority of the 'Lindsey Press' books who are the publishing arm of the Unitarian movement. The older books were the most difficult to scan without damaging the spine. The major Unitarian work 'A History of the Corruptions of Christianity' by Joseph Priestley (the scientist famous for his work with Oxygen) published in 1871, was one of the most challenging. Despite the fact this job is making the contents available to the world, doesn't mean you want to destroy an original. One great advantage was that as the denomination holds the copyright on the more recent publications, it has meant I could include documents not available to facilities such as 'googledocs'".
A few of the 200 books now available.
As well as scanning the documents, each page has also been trimmed, tided and straightened in Photoshop before being compiled into a PDF. The process makes them much easier to read than many other scanned books, but at an average of only 70 pages an hour, it's been a large task, which is still on-going. The 'cleaned' pages have also helped make the word searching more accurate, which is key to an online library. As more publications were found, so the variety of books has increased. Now there are sections on worship material, record books, theology, history and even church architecture. There is also some local material, detailing the history of individual churches and congregations. "One of the by-products of having a denomination full of free thinkers." James concluded "is that so many have put their perspectives down on paper. I'd like to take this opportunity of thanking all those how have given permission for their work to be included. Without them it would not be such an extensive library."
Any one who has suggestions for additions to the library should send details to the IT Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org, he will always be looking for material with links to Unitarianism that is either out of copyright, or that has the authors permission.
The library can be found at: www.unitarian.org.uk/docs