Meeter Center Launches New Web-based Resource for Reformation and Post-Reformation Studies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (October 31, 2009) —

A newly-available research tool,
sponsored by the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Studies and the
Hekman Library at Calvin College and Seminary, promises to aid the work
of scholars from around the world. The Post-Reformation Digital Library
(PRDL) is a select bibliography of primary source documents focusing on
early modern theology and philosophy, spanning publicly-accessible
collections from major research libraries, independent scholarly
initiatives, and corporate documentation projects. The core of the PRDL
project involves the organization of thousands of documents available
in digital form from sources including Google Books and the Internet
Archive. Also included are the offerings of select libraries from
Europe and North America, which are beginning to make digitized forms
of their holdings available to the public. The project covers the work
of hundreds of authors from a wide variety of theological,
philosophical, and ecclesiastical traditions, from figures like John
Calvin and Martin Luther to the Jesuit Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621)
and Jacob Arminius (1560-1609). According to David Sytsma, moderator of
the PRDL editorial board, the current availability of a vast array of
materials is unprecedented in academic history. “The opportunity
presented by this kind of digital access is matched by the challenge to
the individual researcher to deal responsibly and comprehensively with
a broad cross-section of source material,” observes Sytsma, a doctoral
student in historical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary. “The
PRDL is one way to help ensure that the reach of technical
digitalization does not exceed the grasp of the scholar,” he says. The
first stage of the PRDL project involved the collaboration of dozens of
scholars from around the world on a privately editable website, or
wiki. Once a standard level of comprehensiveness was achieved, the wiki
was transitioned to a publicly available bibliography hosted by the
Meeter Center. The site will continue to be updated and users will be
able to suggest revisions via interactive web forms. Dr. Richard A.
Muller, P. J. Zondervan Professor of Historical Theology at Calvin
Seminary and current chair of the Meeter Center Governing Board, notes
the potential of the PRDL to advance research in a variety of
disciplines. “The Post-Reformation Digital Library will be a boon to
both students and professional researchers alike,” he says. Muller also
serves as a member of the PRDL editorial board, as does Lugene
Schemper, theological librarian at Calvin College and Seminary, who
oversaw the migration of the resource to Hekman Library’s LibGuides
system. Members of the PRDL editorial board represent institutions from
across North America and Europe. In addition to Muller and Schemper,
the PRDL editorial board includes: Jordan J. Ballor (University of
Zurich/Calvin Theological Seminary); Albert Gootjes (Calvin Theological
Seminary/Institut d’histoire de la Réformation, Geneva); Todd Rester
(Calvin Theological Seminary); and moderator David Sytsma (Princeton
Theological Seminary). Schemper led a roundtable discussion of the PRDL
and other digital research tools at the Fall meeting of the Chicago
Area Theological Library Association earlier this month. Board members
Jordan J. Ballor, David Sytsma, and Todd Rester are scheduled to
present on the PRDL at a “New Technologies” session at next year’s
annual meeting of the Renaissance Society of America, to be held in
Venice, Italy (April 8-10). Access the Post-Reformation Digital
Library: http://libguides.calvin.edu/prdl

Contact Jordan J. Ballor at (616) 617-7669 or jballor1@calvinseminary.edu
for more information. About the Meeter Center: The H. Henry Meeter
Center for Calvin Studies is a research center specializing in John
Calvin and Calvinism that opened in 1981 and is located at Calvin
College and Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.
http://www.calvin.edu/meeter/about/

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