[Stanford University Libraries]  [Linking the Americas]
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Project Overview

The Linking of the Americas Project is a breakthrough approach in the electronic publishing of scholarly books and archival materials. It's made possible by the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in collaboration with the Stanford University Libraries and Stanford University Press.

Please see the project's final report and accompanying web tour for further details.

Faced with rising costs and shrinking institutional markets, the publishing of scholarly books in a number of fields is confronting serious difficulties. This trend is particularly harmful in fields where new knowledge traditionally circulates in book form, and where books serve as basic building blocks of knowledge. Latin American studies falls into this category.

Books have long played a central role in the intellectual development on the field — yet book publication, especially of monographs, is now in jeopardy. Indeed, much valuable work remains unpublished. Other work does get published, but in extremely small numbers, a circumstance that results in very high market prices. Those prices, in turn, restrict access to the books, particularly outside the U.S, (especially in Latin America).

To help overcome such problem, one of the goals of this project has been to establish a sustainable migration path from traditional publishing in paper to an integrated electronic environment in which highly specialized book-length projects (in this case a major corpus of Latin American texts from Stanford University Press and other invaluable scholarly materials from the Department of Special Collections of the Stanford Libraries) benefit from the obvious advantages of appearing in digital form. Just a few of those benefits are low-cost circulation and easy access for scholars anywhere in the world.

The project also pursues other vital goals relating to the application of emerging electronic publishing technology to lengthy scholarly material and the advantages of providing it in a digital form. Among these are:

  • Navigational and indexing through imbedded hypertext links within each volume, as well as from a consolidated index for all the volumes
  • Links to related materials across the project and to electronic ones provided elsewhere online
  • Leveraging the value of automated searching across a significant corpus of material
  • Developing the easy capacity to extract parts of the whole, or to reorganize materials according to a particular set of intellectual or pedagogical needs.

The Stanford Libraries Systems and the Highwire Press Project joined forces with two outside contractors (Versaware and Los Altos) over two years of research on the production of a technological model. Versaware contributed its expertise in production scanning, image processing, searchable HTML and text help with a user interface. Los Altos handled scanning and PDF formatted page images of unique irreplaceable materials. The result of the collaboration is that the Linking of the Americas Project can offer now a significant, initial, digital body of more than 100 Stanford University Press Latin American titles, and other important materials from the Special Collections at the Stanford Libraries (a handwritten manuscript, correspondence and photos of Uruguayan poet and essayist Juana de Ibarbourou (1892-1979) and a pioneer of a literary tradition for women in Latin America; and selections from the Papers of Chilean novelist, poet and literary critic Fernando Alegria (1918-) that include unedited manuscripts and his correspondence).

Also included in this project are:

  • several Spanish-language, literary journals from the early 20th Century
  • l9th Century Brazilian travel narratives
  • the book Chile in the Nineties, a major electronic project in cooperation with the Presidencia de la Republica de Chile.

The Linking of the Americas Project is an effort to shape a livelier and richer interactive electronic environment that will no doubt alter the processes of learning and teaching, scholarly exchange and research around the globe.