Resource Spotlight: Compact Memory, German-Jewish Digitized Periodicals

Welcome to another installment of the Glocal Notes “Resource Spotlight” series! In these posts, we highlight digital resources relevant to international and area studies. These posts have two goals: 1) familiarize researchers with resources, often published abroad, that they may not be aware of, but which could be of tremendous use to their research and 2) explain how to use these resources, saving researchers’ time and allowing them to concentrate their efforts on evaluating the resources’ usefulness in the context of their research question. This week’s post is about Compact Memory, a digitization initiative of the Goethe University Frankfurt, which provides free, online access to important German-Jewish periodicals.

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Masthead of the January 10, 1986 issue of Berliner Vereinsbote, one of the digitized newspapers available through the Compact Memory digital collection.

Compact Memory provides online access to 172 important newspapers and journals published by the German-Jewish community. Compact Memory is an initiative of the Goethe University Frankfurt University Library and a part of their rich digital collection of Judaica materials. This collection includes resources on a variety of subjects, including academic texts, religion, politics, literature, and social life, published during the years 1768-1938. As such, it is an invaluable resources to researchers, in Jewish Studies and beyond, interested in these topics. This resource is both freely available and easy to use.

The impact of this digitization effort is well summarized on the Compact Memory project’s “About” page:

Due to the condition of many historical journals, as well as wartime losses, the originals of these journals are no longer to be found in any library in this completeness. The journals – and fragments of journals – have been digitized and assembled from different library collections, and are now almost completely available electronically for the first time. They can be printed or saved; some titles have been edited with OCR and are full text searchable. Almost 80.000 single articles of more than 10.000 authors are registered bibliographically. Currently the amount of digitized pages adds up to 750.000. Missing volumes are continuously complemented, and further relevant journals of the German speaking area are added.

The project’s efforts to make these materials available is a fantastic example of the potential of digitization to offer access to materials in unprecedented ways. As it draws on holdings from multiple libraries, Compact Memory is able to provide access to resources beyond what would be available at any single library. Additionally, given the fragile condition of this material (newspapers, in particular, have a relatively short shelf life), digitization efforts ensure that the content of these texts can be accessed and used by many researchers without further compromising the materials themselves, ultimately enabling their long-term preservation. Finally, these digitized archives are integrated into the Europeana Digital Library, an online portal that facilitates access to hundreds of digital collections from across Europe. This integration not only allows users unaware of Compact Memory to discover these resources, but also allows researchers to simultaneously discover relevant materials from other collections. (For more information about Europeana, see our Glocal Notes post from April 2014.)

As mentioned above, the texts in the Compact Memory project can be identified through the Europeana Digital Library portal. Additionally, it is possible to search for relevant articles through the Goethe University Frankfurt Digital Collections search interface. (You can search just Compact Memory, or search all of the library’s digital collections.) The interface offers pretty robust advanced search options and, as mentioned above, some of the materials in Compact Memory are OCR-enabled, which means it is possible to search the full-text of the articles themselves for keywords. For those not yet in-the-know, OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. This means that the image files of the scanned articles have been digitally processed, with the help of some pattern recognition algorithms, to identify the text represented within. While this is something that we, as human readers, can do easily, it is not necessarily a trivial task for a computer. As such, OCR texts often contain mistakes, filling in gibberish where the algorithm was thrown off by a printing mistake, irregular font, or other obstacle. However, these tools are being improved constantly and they give researchers an additional point of entry into the materials.

While these search options are very rich, the ability to browse this collection will be of particular interest to researchers. All 172 periodicals in Compact Memory can be browsed through a robust interface, and it is also possible to browse these materials within the larger Judaica collection. When browsing Compact Memory, the default setting is to display the periodicals in alphabetical order, by title. However, it is possible to toggle the sort to display titles by Author/Collaborator, Place, Printer/Publisher, or Year. Additional nuance is provided by several filters, found on the right side of the screen, that allow researchers to limit their results by Language (Hebrew, German, or English), Publisher, Place of Publication (currently, 44 cities are represented), and Document Type (journal or newspaper). Each issue of a title is available as a downloadable PDF file, allowing researchers to access the materials both online and off, on whatever device is they prefer (including printing out the sections they wish to examine in depth). Many researchers using digitized materials may already be painfully aware that this portability is not always the case. Often, online collections restrict the user to a clunky online-only viewing interface, limit printing, or provide off-line viewing only through proprietary software. Finally, each record is linked directly to a record for that item University Library’s online catalog, providing an additional access point to other materials that may be of interest.

Overall, Compact Memory is a fantastic resource for scholars working in Jewish Studies. Not only does it provide access to a rich collection of otherwise hard-to-find journals and newspapers, it does so through a robust interface that allows researchers to easily locate and access the materials they need.

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Resource Spotlight: Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia

According to a memo authored by the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Science in 2005, at least one third of the 6,000 unique languages spoken today are endangered. Experts anticipate that these languages, nearly 2,000 of them, will be entirely replaced by dominant languages by the end of the 21st century. The memo also notes that 30 endangered languages are currently spoken in Siberia. These languages include Aleutian, Aliutor, Chelkan, Chukchi, Chulym Turk, Enets, Even, Itelmen, Kerek, Ket, Koryak, Kumandin, Mansi, Nanai, Negidal, Nganasan, Nivkh, Oroch, Selkup, Shor, Soyot, Teleut, Tofalar, Udeghe, Uilta (Orok), Ulch, Yukagir, and Yupik.

“…at least one third of the 6,000 unique languages spoken today are endangered.”

As a result of this information, and in response to UNESCO initiative for the preservation of endangered languages, The Institute for Ethnology and Anthropology has launched Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia, an online resource dedicated to resources related to endangered languages spoken in Siberia. The site is available in both Russian and English.

In addition to information about the project, the portal is divided into several different sections: Languages and Cultures, Bibliographies, Projects, and Instruments.

lake baikal fauna by clurross is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/5gUVt1

lake baikal fauna by clurross is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/5gUVt1

Languages and Cultures

This section contains introductory information about all of the 28 languages listed above. This includes general linguistic descriptions, such as relevant ethnonyms, basic grammatical structure, information about number of native speakers and the geographic spread of the language, as well as sociolinguistic and historical details about the language. The amount of information available varies, but in all cases it is enough to give the reader a sense of the language and its characteristics.

Bibliographies

The Bibliographies section is probably the most useful part of the portal. Like the Languages and Cultures section, it is divided by language. For anyone wanting to learn more about these languages, the authors have done a lot of the work for you simply by identifying relevant published materials. It indexes a variety of sources, including linguistic studies, grammars, and textbooks and other instructional materials. The majority of this material is published in Russian. Should you wish to consult it, don’t hesitate to contact the Slavic Reference Service and we will do our best to locate an available copy, either locally or through Interlibrary Loan.

New tram in Irkutsk by Michael Chu is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/5zcvtP

New tram in Irkutsk by Michael Chu is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. https://flic.kr/p/5zcvtP

Projects and Instruments

The section on Projects tracks ongoing and completed research projects related to the featured languages. A short blurb about each project is available, alongside information about the researchers carrying out the work. Where available, related websites are linked. At the time of writing, the site features projects relating to just 12 of the 28 languages: Aleut, Chelkan, Chulym, Ket, Nivkh, Oroch, Selkup, Shor, Udeghe, and Itelmen, Koryak, and Even (the Languages of Kamchatka Peninsula). For those inspired to carry out their own work, the Instruments section provides information about tools for linguistic research, including specialized software and fonts. This section seems to still be under development, and does not yet contain much information.

Overall, the Endangered Languages of Indigenous Peoples of Siberia portal is a good resource for identifying materials about an important subject that is not widely studied. If this topic has piqued your interest, some additional resources you might consult include:

UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger

Guide to General Resources for Slavic Linguistics

Guide to Resources for the Study of Minorities in Russia

UIUC Linguistics Library Guide

As always, feel free to visit us at the International & Area Studies Library to get research assistance from a subject specialist for the region of the world that you study. Happy researching!

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Resource Spotlight: Türkiye Bibliyografyası

Do you research Turkish language or culture? Are you curious to know what materials are being published in Turkey? This Glocal Notes post is for you! This post is an introduction to Türkiye Bibliyografyası (Bibliography of Turkey in English). This fantastic online resource is maintained by the National Library of Turkey, the body responsible for compiling the national bibliography in that country. The recently revamped Türkiye Bibliyografyası online portal provides access to the national bibliography, as well as several other bibliographic resources, through an intuitive and well-designed interface. As of March 2015, there is no English-language interface for the portal, so prepare to put your Turkish language skills to good use. Below are some details about the various components of the online portal, as well as the options they offer.

Türkiye Bibliyografyası

Screen capture of the Turkish National Bibliography online portal.

Screen capture of the Bibliography of Turkey online portal.

One of the key components of the portal is access to the digital editions of the comprehensive Turkish National Bibliography. This monthly publication covers the period from 2003, when the national bibliography transitioned to an online-only publication, to the present. However, as of March 2015, the latest available issue covers July 2012. To access this material, click on the blue and orange Bibliografyalar panel at the top of the screen and select the appropriate month. The bibliography is available as a PDF or as a compressed file containing a searchable instance of the database. (The .zip file contains an executable FileMaker, Pro file and all of the necessary support files.)

Each issue of the bibliography is divided into three sections for books, periodicals, and audiovisual materials with the entries in each section listed by subject. The following information is available in each entry: title of the work, author, publisher, series, and subject. Each issue also includes the following indexes: authors, corporate bodies, book titles, periodical titles, audio-visual materials, ISBN and ISSN.

Türkiye Makaleler Bibliyografyası

Türkiye Makaleler Bibliyografyası, a bibliography of articles published in Turkish journals, is a new addition to the portal. It contains records of 874,187 articles culled from 5,073 journals published in the Republic of Turkey, and covering the period 1923 to the present. A number of advanced search options are available, including searching by article title, journal title, subject (you can choose from a list of possible subjects), ISSN, and year of publications (you may also specify a range of years). A limited number of filters and sorting options can further specify your results set, and there is an option to email selected records to yourself or someone else. Please note, facsimiles of the article bibliographies for 2003-2012 are also available through the Bibliografyalar interface described above.

Kişi Bibliyografyaları

The portal also contains a number of Kişi Bibliyografyaları, literally short bibliographies, highlighting materials by and about specific individuals that feature prominently in Turkish cultural history. These bibliographies include: M.Akif Ersoy, Mevlana, Hacı Bektaş Veli, Nazım Hikmet, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Kaşgarlı Mahmud, and Yusuf Nabi. Also available is the Eski Harfli Basma Türkçe Eserler Bibliyografya, a bibliography of 37,359 different Turkish works published in Arabic, Greek and Armenian characters between 1584-1986.

Türkiye Bibliyografyası is a great resource for researching Turkish history and culture. If you’re interested in learning more, there are a number of resources available through the International and Area Studies Library. Just stop by 321 Main Library or send your question to internationalref [at] library.illinois.edu!

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Geocinema.ge – Watch Georgian Films Online!

Have you ever seen a Georgian film? In a 1998 New York Times profile of filmmaker Nana Jorjadze (also transliterated as Djordjadze), critic Stephen Kinzer describes the long tradition of Georgian cinema as founded on “surrealism and poetic intensity.” Its history dates back to 1908, with the release of the several short films, and the first feature-length film, a documentary, was released in 1912. Over the years, many Georgian films, including several by Ms. Jorjadze, have received international accolades and this tradition carries on into the present day.

If you’re learning Georgian or just interested in learning more about the country’s rich cinema tradition, Geocinema.ge is an indispensable resource. The project, maintained by the Georgian National Filmography, makes the rich history of Georgian cinema available online. Through the online portal, you can find information about the 100+ years of Georgian film history, and find information of films released between 1912 and today. The database can be browsed by year, film title, or artists (including directors, actors, and producers). The amount of detail provided about each film varies. While some records contain detailed plot synopses, other entries are more sparse and provide only the basic bibliographical information about a film: title, director, year of release, and film studio.

Geocinema.ge is available through both a Georgian- and an English-language interface. It is clear from the homepage that the English version of the site is still a work-in-progress and some information, including a short essay on the history of Georgian cinema, is only available in through the Georgian interface. Unfortunately, the search functionality in the English-language interface is limited and browsing the site can be unintuitive. For example, to browse the list of films, you must navigate to the Films tab, select the attribute of your choice (title, director, etc.), and then click on a letter of the alphabet in order to generate a results list.

Screen capture of the film browsing interface for Geocinema.ge.

Browse the history of Georgian cinema at Geocinema.ge.

Despite some of its design flaws, Geocinema.ge is fantastic resource for anyone interested in learning more about the rich tradition of Georgian film. The best feature of the site is that many of the films are available for streaming online – just keep an eye out for the camera icon! Many, but not all, of the films have English subtitles. Unsure of where to start? The default setting when browsing displays the Top 90 Films.

If you want to learn more about Georgia, see our Guide to Georgian Bibliography for information about some helpful resources. On the other hand, if you are curious about finding other foreign films at the University of Illinois Library, see our Glocal Notes post from September 2012 about How to Browse Non-English Language Movies in the Online Catalog. If you’re looking for something specific, get in touch with subject specialist for your region and we’ll help you track it down.

Do you have a new favorite Georgian film? What resources do you turn to when looking for foreign-language movies? Let us know in the comments!

References
Kinzer, S. (1998, September 20). Poetic and Surreal, Georgian Cinema is True to Life. New York Times. p. 30.

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