Nov 212006

This is not news but for some reason the enormous Digital Mathematics Library had not made much of an impression on me before today when I stumbled across it. The DML site now offers links to 211 digitized journals/seminars (> 4,017,902 pages) and to 2170 digitized books (> 484,904 pages). Much if not most of the content is open access (the exceptions are mainly links to journals held on JSTOR). The coverage is certainly historical, with for instance articles from a 1691 journal just a couple of clicks away on the French Gallica archive.

The DML project is described in a September 2003 article (that’s how behind the times I am on this!) by Allyn Jackson in Notices of the American Mathematical Society. DML is a retrodigitisation project; from Jackson’s article:

The grand vision of the DML is to have all of the mathematical literature online and available through a central source to anyone who has a computer and an Internet connection. … The initial goal of the DML is the retrodigitization of all of the past mathem atics literature. … the grand vision of the DML is feasible: with today’s technology, it is actually a tractable task to put all 50 million pages of the past mathematical literature online.

The older literature is particularly important in mathematics:

Unlike researchers in many other disciplines, especially in the sciences and engineering, mathematicians rely heavily on past literature while working at the frontiers of research. Having that literature available electronically would have a large impact on current research in mathematics.

The DML project is actually a fairly loose federation of separate digitisation projects, including Numdam (a French project supported by CNRS providing delayed open access to digitised maths journals), Göttinger Digitalisierungs Zentrum (the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft programme for retrospective digitisation of library materials), and Emani (an archiving & preservation project ).

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