[Stéfan Sinclair (via DH Commons mentorship program) suggested that I post here. I have described this project in my "collaborator" or user profile on DH Commons at http://dhcommons.org ; direct link from the "Collaborators" section at http://dhcommons.org/users/susan-hollis-merritt and in my member profile on MLA Commons at http://commons.mla.org ; direct member link at http://commons.mla.org/members/shmerritt/; direct links are also provided in the Pinter Bibliography and CV sections on my website at http://www.susanhollismerritt.org , where there are related details.]
I am requesting advice and guidance as I explore the possibility of building a searchable digital database for my "Harold Pinter Bibliography" published in print in volumes of The Pinter Review (Tampa: The University of Tampa Press, 1987-2011). Each annual/biennial/special edition of this bibliography is published in MLA format (whatever the most current MLA format has been at the time). I would plan to continue with MLA format for consistency of documentation style throughout. (I understand that users of such a bibliography could convert easily to whatever format is desired on their end later.)
I have word-processed files (WordPerfect) for all of the 14 editions of this bibliography. The same typist working for The University of Tampa Press prepared my word-processed files into a format to be used by the printer. For several years, she converted my "Harold Pinter Bibliography" files initially to MS Word document files or various versions of PDF files for the printer. More recently, I gave her my own PDF file versions of my WordPerfect files, which I believe she also converted to Word or to another format for the printer. The typist's and printer's digital files may be accessible if I need to have them for easier digital conversion.
A problem with the typist's conversions from one word-processing software program to another has been the loss of accents, punctuation, and other typesetting features, which at times have had to be corrected in printer's proofs. I have maintained hard copies (original books and parts of books, offprints, photocopies, or print outs) and handwritten index cards (for every entry) to check as back ups of the bibliographic entries in the printed bibliographies for purposes of such error-correction of occasional printer's errors that were missed even in corrected proof.
From looking into this matter over a decade ago (when ProCite was initially popular), I believe that the printed information (even though digitized) would need to be converted into records featuring bibliographic fields (including annotations, sometimes lengthy, most often very brief) for each printed entry, and each entry would need to have key words and/or phrases (e.g., to accommodate multiple authors, editors, titles, subjects, etc.) so that it could be capable of classification by key words for searching by users. Also, there are categories and subsections of categories in each published edition of this bibliography that may need some kind of "field"/key word/phrase identification for sorting electronically.
I am not familiar with mark up language beyond HTML, but it is possible that I might be able to learn about additional mark up languages if needed (e.g., RIS Format, SML format, etc.). When I asked this question of a presenter after a DH session at the MLA Convention in Boston, she advised me to look at Drupal (which I have done somewhat), but I am not trained in using it for anything. It appears to me to be involved in the stage of actually putting an already developed database online. Another piece of advice I have received is possibly to create an EXCEL type spreadsheet which could be searched. But before I would begin doing any of this work, I would like to have a plan to use one mode of conversion (one kind of software, so as to avoid duplication of effort).
Thus, a main question that I am asking is: What would be the most effective current software package or packages to use for this entire process?
Prior to deciding this project's feasibility and how and where this database would be hosted (institutional partners/support), I need to explore such matters as: (1) the technical requirements for such conversion from printed material to searchable digital format; (2) the estimated cost of such conversion (including the costs of any commercial software packages involved (if any) and of assistance with the physical input of the records); (3) whether or not applying for grant support is warranted; and so on.
I welcome suggestions, advice, and guidance. Thank you very much.
[(updated on January 17, 2013)Since first posting this, I have been exploring some earlier DH Q&A threads and found Bethany Nowviskie's suggesting that updates are in progress for http://arts-humanities.net/, and I will be exploring the "tools" forum there; the "bibliography" section returned an error message when I tried it, so I'll try it again later.]
Susan Hollis Merritt, PhD
Founding Bibliographical Editor
The Pinter Review