Palo Alto Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - July 9, 2010

Webb on the Web

New digital collection makes author's manuscripts and other items widely available

The Mary Webb exhibit has been on both coasts, but that doesn't mean it's accessible to everyone. So book collectors Mary and Bruce Crawford, and Stanford University, are taking their efforts a step farther.

Besides displaying Webbiana at the university's Green Library, the Crawfords have also allowed Stanford staff to scan many of the materials and create a permanent digital collection, available for free viewing online. Visitors can click and read Webb's letters, or peer at manuscripts, photos and dust jackets of first editions. Descriptive paragraphs put the items in context.

"We like to think of this as a digital reproduction of the archival experience," said Glen Worthey, digital humanities librarian at Stanford.

In the 1930s, many people wrote master's theses on Webb, but then the author dimmed in popularity, Crawford said. She hopes the digital collection will help increase interest in Webb, and also make it easier for scholars — and just plain enthusiasts — to see these rare items.

"This is the perfect private collector-public institution collaboration," Crawford said. "When Stanford says, 'We're putting up an exhibit,' people want to see it."

To view the digital collection, go to http://marywebb.stanford.edu .

— Rebecca Wallace

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