Like the early modern correspondence networks which it documents, Early Modern Letters Online is not conceived as finite, centralised, or self-contained. Instead, we hope and expect that our union catalogue will continue to grow at the hands of a geographically dispersed community of contributors. If you are an individual, research project, or an institution with hitherto inaccessible metadata on significant early modern corpora to manage and share, then we would very much like to hear from you. The EMLO process is simple:
1. Submit Your Data
If we decide that your collection is a good fit for the catalogue, then you can submit it in various formats; we have a highly flexible approach to ingesting data (honed whilst importing our eight pilot catalogues), and can deal comprehensively with a range of structured formats from XML/TEI files to excel Spreadsheets and Access databases. Just hand it over and we'll do the rest. And it gets better; if you're collecting metadata for the first time, from early 2012 you will be able to download from this page a free-standing, offline data-collection tool which you can use to harvest a wide range of metadata on early modern letters and submit it yourself via our editorial environment (EMLO Edit). Based on the open-source Open Office platform, and designed for use in libraries and archives where internet connections are often unpredictable, this software lifts the table structure from the online tool (see below), but replaces the web forms with native worksheets, forms, and validation code.
2. Refine and Manage Your Data
Once your records are safely on board, we'll set you up as an editor on our web-based editorial interface: EMLO Edit. Effectively a bespoke content management system for early modern letters, this powerful and user-friendly online publishing environment — designed by and for our researchers and editors, who have used it succesfully for over a year — allows you to: add new letters to your collection as and when they are discovered; refine and annotate your data in perpetuity over the full seventy fields of the EMLO object model; upload transcriptions and images (with, of course, appropriate permissions); and deal with conflicts with existing catalogue entities (be they people, repositories, places, or the same letter already in the system) in our merging centre; all without any exposure to underlying code. Everything versions (so nothing is lost), while audit trails, CSV exports, and a host of other tracking services allow you to monitor and manage your collections with ease.
3. Share Your Data
When you're happy with your data in the 'back end' (where it is visible only to other authorised contributors), you can release it at the click of a mouse to the public-facing 'front end'; the part of the catalogue you're currently in, this interrogates the metadata for end users by means of a sophisticated suite of search and discovery functions. Here, your correspondents, their letters, and their locations will publicly mingle with and cross-fertilise those of other denizens of the growing EMLO universe, yet your collection can still be interrogated individually. Record provenance (i.e. who contributed it) and the date of last changes are clearly flagged on each of our records; every one links to a brief description of the catalogue and related acknowledgements on our Collections page; while, if you spot an error or would like to add another level of richness, EMLO Edit is merely a click away.