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Digital Initiatives: Fusing Librarianship and Technology to Serve Researchers - Issue 2 (Spring 2014)

"It may be invisible to the end user, but fruitful access to digital content requires lots of work. That is the work that we do - creating digital library assets, identifying and contextualizing them with high-quality metadata, formatting them for efficient searching and processing, and then presenting them through innovative web-based software applications." - Gregory Murray, Head of Digital Initiatives

Digital Initiatives is a four-person team of librarian-technologists who focus on building the Seminary’s digital library, which is freely accessible online. The web site,, describes the library’s extensive digital collections.

The Seminary’s flagship digital library resource, the Theological Commons,, constitutes a significant contribution to theological research. It is unique because it combines mass digitization with subject-based selection. Also, by partnering with Internet Archive,, a much larger digitization effort, the Theological Commons is able to include not only 29,000 volumes from Princeton Seminary’s book collections, but also 50,000 volumes from other research libraries.

Highlights include:

• Guides to the library’s rich manuscript collections

• Journals published by, or closely associated with the Seminary from 1825 to 2010

• The Princeton Lectures on Youth, Church, and Culture—providing access to original scholarship in youth ministry

• The Digital Library of Abraham Kuyper, containing the complete archive of more than 100,000 manuscript pages

• An archive of web sites containing content that is relevant to theological education

• Theological Commons, a fully searchable digital library of close to 79,000 public domain books and periodicals on theology and religion

Digital Initiatives:

Building on this important resource, Digital Initiatives is currently undertaking a major expansion of the Theological Commons, thanks to a $1.5M grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. This expansion will provide access to unique audio and visual resources. The cornerstone of this effort involves the digitization of the Seminary’s extensive media archive, which contains close to 9,000 audio recordings spanning the last 60 years, along with hundreds of more recent video recordings. These recordings capture public lectures, interviews, and sermons, given by prominent scholars, pastors, and church leaders. Most of the original tapes are at risk of disintegration, so digitizing this content not only makes it widely available, but also preserves it for future generations of researchers.