Academic journal article The Hymn

Digital Repositories

Academic journal article The Hymn

Digital Repositories

Article excerpt

As a librarian, I have heard a lot of strange requests and comments from our patrons. I even keep a file of the really good ones. One of my more philosophical favorites was, "Do you have the book The Nonexistent Word Finderi" That patron was looking for the Nonsexist Word Finder, but I liked the first question better. In its most positive interpretation, this question showed such faith in what a library could provide. Things nonexistent! Right over here!

But there are, of course, some times when I am not always aware of what a person's research needs are until they talk through their questions with me. That leads me to ask, "Do we know people who might want to talk tlirough their questions about hymnology witli us, The Hymn Society?"

What needs have yet to be met, and how do we meet the needs of beginners and experts alike? What else should we be exploring in hymnology, and how can we make our resources readily, consistently, and openly available to a wider audience? We do these things in large part witli The Hymn, Hymnary.org, and at our conferences, but what otiier options might we consider?

Harry Plantinga and I are currendy (December) conducting a survey of Hymnary.org users, to see who they are and why tliey use Hymnary.org. What are their information needs? What else might tliey like to see at Hymnary.org? Over the past few years, the questions that come in to Hymnary.org indicate tliat we have a wide-ranging constituency, ranging from those looking for their favorite hymns to those who are spending considerable time researching particular people or denominations. Some ask about copyright concerns, the monetary value of certain hymnals, and biographical information; others provide us witli a great deal of detailed information to be included or corrected in the database. I should mention tliat Dianne Shapiro at Hymnary.org answers these questions and requests with unending grace and patience. In any case, it will be very interesting to see what other needs Hymnary.org users express in the survey.

Hymnary.org volunteers, with Hilary Donaldson's assistance, have also come forward witli bibliographies of hymnals from various denominations. While our original plan was to use these largely to determine if there were any hymnals that need to be added to Hymnary. …

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