Readux

About the Project

Since 2008 Emory University Libraries has been digitizing thousands of books, many of which are rare, fragile, or otherwise difficult to access. Although they can be discovered through the library catalog, their online presence as digital collections has not previously been showcased. Readux provides a platform to explore and engage with these visually rich and diverse materials including nineteenth-century African American literature and travel guides, early Northern European emblem books, and over 1,200 yellowback novels. A collaboration between several departments including Library Software Engineering Team, the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, and the Large Scale Digitization Initiative, and including materials from the Robert W. Woodruff Library and Pitts Theology Library, Readux enhances access to and facilitates research with Emory's exemplary library holdings.

Browsing and Annotating

Readux provides multiple layers of access to these collections including browsing, annotation, and export of digital editions. All volumes support Zotero citation harvesting and may be downloaded or read in a browser as PDF documents. The text (uncorrected OCR, in most cases) can be exported to Voyant for web-based text analysis. For many volumes, there is also page-level access that provides a page-turner reader with deep-zoom capacity. These volumes can be identified in browsing and can be searched using the "read online" filter.

In addition to a reading environment, Readux also provides an annotation platform for volumes with page-level access. Annotations can include formatted text as well as images, and may target highlighted text as well as sections of a page, enabling the annotation of the rich images and music many Readux volumes feature. Annotations in Readux can support the production of digital critical editions, and also offer users a way to take notes on a volume and provide instructors with a method of fostering students' engagement with primary sources. Readux content is, of course, compatible with external annotation tools such as hypothes.is and AnnotateIt, for users who prefer to store annotations elsewhere.

Exporting Digital Editions

Readux also facilitates the export of annotated editions of volumes with page-level access in two formats: as a full-featured static website and as an archivable data file. The web edition displays the text's page images and contains all the text and annotation content you see within Readux. Its responsive design can be customized and expanded to include additional content such as an introduction. It is built with Jekyll and can be freely hosted at GitHub Pages. The data export features archival-standard TEI facsimiles.

Readux makes publishing a digital edition simple. The platform uniquely pairs digitized facsimile images of a book's pages with searchable text and multimedia annotations -- a format ideally suited to teaching, research, and publishing projects where engaging with a particular primary source in its original form is important. Readux's web export speedily generates a versionable, lightweight, and highly customizable website that pairs the source's digitized pages with selectable and searchable text as well as rich multimedia annotations. The archival TEI export offers the potential to express the edition's data in any of a range of formats and ensures the survival of the edition as web technologies shift.

Readux can be used to export annotated editions. The platform suits editions where the bibliographic form of the original, its typography, or design is key as well as editions projects focused on a particular printing of a text. Readux's Jekyll/GitHub Pages approach to web publishing provides a free hosting option while also allowing publishing at your own URL, enables easy archiving, and eliminates key obstacles to sustainability such as dependency on databases or server-side scripting languages. Readux team member Jesse P. Karlsberg is editing a digital critical edition of Original Sacred Harp (1911), a popular shape-note tunebook, as a leading use case of the tool's annotation and edition publishing functionality. This edition is part of Sounding Spirit, a critical edition publishing collaboration between ECDS and the University of North Carolina Press.

Readux can also be used for teaching projects that feature close engagement with primary sources. Students could work individually or collaboratively to annotate texts within Readux's browsing and annotation environment, and then use the Readux export tool to produce a website documenting students' annotations. The Readux interface currently only allows single-author annotated editions, but a Readux administrator can export a multi-author edition on your behalf. Since hosting is free with a GitHub account, creating a Readux edition is an affordable and innovative way for students to demonstrate engagement with primary source evidence.

Readux's TEI export can be used to create an archival copy of an annotated edition. Readux exports edition data using the widely adopted Text Encoding Initiative standard, with a large community of users and a host of available tools. The TEI export contains the full text of the volume with user annotations linked to selections of text or portions of the page image using stable identifiers, ensuring long-term access to this data and making possible its expression in a variety of forms. Indeed, Readux's web export is actually generated from the TEI export. Readux web editions also include the TEI in the edition package.

Project Team

  • Rebecca Sutton Koeser (Emory LITS senior software engineer), technical lead and primary development
  • Kevin Glover (former Emory LITS senior software engineer), site design and annotation development
  • Kelly Resignola (former Emory LITS software development project manager), project management
  • Alice Hickcox (former ECDS Digital Text Specialist), product manager, concept originator
  • Sara Palmer (ECDS Digital Text Specialist), product manager
  • Jesse P. Karlsberg (ECDS Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities Publishing), critical editions project proposer, annotation and export consultant