As you know, G.K. Chesterton is one of the most prolific authors who ever lived. For the last twenty years, the American Chesterton Society has been involved in the gigantic project of finding everything Chesterton wrote, collecting and copying it, and transcribing it. It has been a completely volunteer effort. The goal is to make all of Chesterton’s writings available for scholars, students and fans to search and study and contemplate. We have been creating the Chesterton Digital Library (CDL) with the planned end product being a searchable online source of all of Chesterton. This would include not only his books, but his uncollected journalism (over 5000 essays), plus newspaper interviews, accounts of speeches, and supplemental literature. There will be over 7000 unique items in this collection. Why is the Chesterton Digital Library (CDL) important?
1. To make Chesterton more accessible to everyone. At the American Chesterton Society, our mission is to make G.K. Chesterton better known and loved in the world. We have many ways that we work to do this, but our most fundamental way is to simply introduce more people to Chesterton. With the CDL, all of Chesterton's writings will be at the fingertips of the three billion people who use the internet daily.
2. To help those who want to quote Chesterton in their articles and research papers, or those who want to discover what Chesterton had to say on a certain topic or topics. Researchers currently write to the American Chesterton Society requesting help for their work, and we try to help as many as possible, but once the CDL is up and running, they can run custom searches on any topic.
3. To help the team that will eventually be involved in the Cause for the Sainthood of Chesterton. This team will have to wade through as much of Chesterton’s writings as they possibly can during the years of investigation into Chesterton’s sainthood. Our work will help those involved by handing them a database where items can be read, checked off, marked for attention as important. In other words, this will be an invaluable tool for that team.
In the last three years, we’ve catalogued and processed hundreds if not thousands of Chesterton’s works. The website has been started, a database is being created, and soon a website will be in beta testing. The entirety of the project has been volunteer run, volunteer time, typing, editing, database creating, consistency checking and every bit of research has been done by volunteers. Sometimes works come from libraries where it is given free, other times, the library will charge a nominal fee for retrieving the item. The fees may be small, perhaps $2-$30, but over time and with many items, these fees can add up. Storage space to hold the digital library is also a nominal but ever present fee, one that will continue year after year. And it is time to take the project to the next step, creating the search engine and the extended web machine that will be user-friendly.
We hoping to raise $20,000 to bring the CDL close to completion.
Please consider giving to this worthwhile and worthy project. We thank you for being a part of the American Chesterton Society and the Chesterton Digital Library.
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- Ty Woods
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