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Weekly News Digest

December 6, 2010 — In addition to this week's NewsBreaks article and the monthly NewsLink Spotlight, Information Today, Inc. (ITI) offers Weekly News Digests that feature recent product news and company announcements. Watch for additional coverage to appear in the next print issue of Information Today. For other up-to-the-minute news, check out ITIís Twitter account: @ITINewsBreaks.

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ProQuest Launches The Cecil Papers

An intimate look at the inner workings of Elizabethan and Jacobean England goes worldwide this month when ProQuest launches The Cecil Papers for the web. The 30,000 startlingly clear digital images virtually recreate documents gathered by William Cecil, Lord Burghley and his son Robert Cecil, First Earl of Salisbury, two of Elizabeth I’s closest advisers.

Thanks to an agreement between the Library and Archives of Hatfield House, the 400 year-old home of Britain’s Marquess of Salisbury, and information technology firm ProQuest, an expert in digitization of rare documents, web users can view state papers, political memoranda, legal documents, and treaties as well as hand-drawn maps, tables, and letters that will transport them into the day-to-day of events such as the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot, and the imprisonment and execution of Mary, Queen of Scots.

The Cecil Papers are fascinating to a wide range of readers—from professional historians to the merely curious—but it’s very important to understand the impact this broadened access will have on serious research in this area,” said Dan Burnstone, vice president of publishing at ProQuest. “Digitization of these papers strips away the filters of opinion so that scholars can look at original works and draw their own conclusions. We may see the emergence of entirely new interpretations of some of the most riveting chapters in British history.”

Until now, The Cecil Papers were available for viewing only to visitors of Hatfield House, located just outside London, where they have been housed since the 16th century, or through two ageing microfilm versions. Digitization dramatically expands access for scholars, accelerating research opportunities. While ProQuest will provide the technological expertise, subscribing libraries will provide the access point, incorporating The Cecil Papers into their digital collections and making them available through their internet gateways. The National University of Ireland is among the very first libraries to provide access.

Source: ProQuest

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