How do you make rare 16th century theological treasures available to students and scholars in the twenty first century? The innovative answer at the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research (www.juniusinstitute.org) sounds like the whir of a robot, the click of a camera, and the rustle of 1,500 pages an hour.
The Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research is a new institute at Calvin Theological Seminary. This institute is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of rare works from the Reformation and post-Reformation era to students and scholars at home and abroad. The hum of these mechanized sounds emanate from an automated book scanner designed by one of the doctoral candidates at Calvin Theological Seminary, Todd Rester, who is also the director of the Junius Institute. “We have an opportunity to present and preserve the rare book holdings of the Hekman Library and the Meeter Center for Calvin Studies in a cost-effective and digital way to make a global impact.”
Through some of its current projects like the Post-Reformation Digital Library (www.prdl.org), the Junius Institute is already aiding scholars and amplifying the curricula of seminaries and universities around the world through a finding list of over 65,000 titles available for free from other universities and archives. But a digitization project of the rare books of the Hekman Library still has not been done. This initiative will bring these rare treasures only a few mouse clicks away from the Calvin community.
So what is the status of the project now? “With our robotic book photography device, our digitization initiative rivals and even surpasses the technical abilities of renowned international universities and archives,” Rester notes, “but our funding is dependent on grassroots giving and our staff operates overwhelmingly by the dedicated volunteer efforts of graduate students and recent graduates. Until we meet our donor benchmarks for such an ambitious digitization project, this robot that can gently and quickly process over 1,500 images an hour will stand idle. We would love to see forward-looking donors and supporters partner with us to make this bold dream a reality for the Calvin College and Seminary community.” If you would like to support this digitization initiative with a gift please click here. If you would like to subscribe to receive more information about the Junius Institute and their work you can sign up here.