[Bell Historians] Library Committee's learned journal

David Bryant djb122 at y...
Thu Apr 10 23:06:28 BST 2003

Anne Willis wrote:

> Yes,www. is a fine thing, and I find it most useful. However I suspect
> only comparitively little has made its way onto the web. So much depends
> someone making the information available, and this takes time and money.
> For example, if you wanted to search the archives of the Wiltshire
> Archaeological and Natural History Society, the only place it can be done
> in their library at Devizes. There is simply no money to place even an
> on the web, and I doubt if it is the only organisation in this situation.
> To depend on the web is as bad as depending on only one source or author
> a subject when many are available.

Isn't this looking at the issues from a rather narrow perspective? Most work
in bell history, and indeed in local history and archaeological societies,
is done on a voluntary basis, so why should money be an issue? Many such
societies have cumulative printed indices for every ten years, or something
along those lines, and putting these on the web would not be a huge task for
people with basic knowledge of web publishing, and it seems fairly likely
that such people are to be found in many local history societies and the
like. If the opportunities offered by the web are not realised by such
societies that is their loss.

I use the web extensively for publishing bell research. I have a number of
sites, of which the main one is the York Bells site, most of the information
on which was previously unpublished. The great advantage of the web is that
it costs pretty much nothing, can be added to and amended as necessary,
unlike a book for which all research has to be completed before publication.
It is also possible to include much more information (and pictures) than
would be possible in a book simply on account of the amount of space it
would take up. Has anyone printed the whole York site (I haven't). How many
pages is it?

Of course the web does have drawbacks, the main one of which is, as Carl has
pointed out, its transitory nature. Also, some people (myself included) like
to have books. However, given the above and the fact that with a limited
interest subject such as bells the number of books sold will be small and a
loss may well be made, the web is a very good alternative, particularly for
work in progress where it is intended to publish a book eventually (as I do
with the York site).

Incidentally, regarding articles on the bell historians site, most of them
are on the part of my site at www.bryantd.fsnet.co.uk specifically so that
they are accessible to anyone. The only significant one which is on the
Yahoo site only accessible to list members is John Ketteringham's article on
F.E. Collins, the G&J bellhanger. John has asked me to move this onto the
other site, which I intend to do when I get round to it (I haven't forgotten
it, John!).

Naturally, the web sould be used in conjunction with published sources, and
it is worth remembering that it is accessible to far more people than a
small print run book of many decades ago. The point often made in mainstream
archaeological circles is that the web opens the floodgates for large
quantities of material which may be of dubious quality. However, surely it
is up to the researcher to use their initiative and sort the worthwhile from
the dross. Many of the sites on bells are of far greater merit than some
published books on the subject which I can think of!


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