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U.Va Library’s Japanese Text Initiative Receives Grant From Toshiba Foundation

August 25, 2003 -- The award-winning Japanese Text Initiative at the University of Virginia Library is adding additional rare and historic texts to its Web site, thanks to a recent grant from Japan’s Toshiba International Foundation. The JTI offers digital versions of classical Japanese texts from the 8th century to contemporary works and is one of the most popular sites of its kind. Tomoko Seki, program officer for the foundation, traveled to Alderman Library to make the award.

This is the third grant the JTI has received from the foundation, and the project joins such institutions as the Louvre, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Library of Congress in receiving foundation support.

The Toshiba grant will let the JTI broaden its collection to include not only masterpieces of Japanese literature, but also rare texts that are less well known. The texts will be digitized and uploaded to the "Treasury of Japanese Literature for Scholars,” a fully-indexed collection that will include such works as:

  • volumes from Gunsho ruiju, a significant compilation of literature dating back more than 200 years, and
  • Tsukubashu,a celebrated collection of late medieval poetry written before haiku became the dominant form of poetry in Japan.

Lewis Cook, professor of Japanese literature at Queens College of the City University of New York and a contributor to the project, said, “This new grant will make the JTI even more valuable to us. The Japanese Text Initiative has become a critical tool for scholars throughout the world who study classical Japanese literature."

The Japanese Text Initiative began in 1995 as a collaborative effort by the University of Virginia Library’s Electronic Text Center and University of Pittsburgh East Asian Library.
Today the collection includes not only classical texts, but also haiku, kabuki plays, and contemporary works. While most texts are in Japanese, English translations are provided when available.

To date the JTI has won several awards, including the internationally recognized Digital Archives Award by Digital Frontier Kyoto, in 2000. Digital Frontier Kyoto represents a consortium of the city and prefecture of Kyoto, Japan, and businesses and universities in Japan. Each year this prestigious award is presented to a digital project that exemplifies using content and technology to preserve world culture.

The Japanese texts are part of more than 70,000 online texts at the library’s Electronic Text Center. The E-Text Center, founded in 1992, was the first electronic center of its kind, and provides Internet access to humanities-related XML texts.

Explore the Japanese Text Initiative at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/japanese, and the E-Text Center itself at http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/.

Contact: Kendon Stubb, (434) 924-0501

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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