Technology Fee Funded Projects

Patrologia Latina

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Project Description

The Departments of English, History, Modern Languages, and Philosophy, along with the Minor Program in Medieval and Renaissance Studies, in collaboration with the UCF Libraries, request $35,893 for the purchase of the Patrologia Latina, a database of primary sources. These resources will fill a crucial need for students and scholars of the classical era and the Middle Ages. The Patrologia Latina includes works spanning a millennium, from Tertullian (d. 230) to Pope Innocent III (d. 1216). Highlights of the collection include the complete works of this extraordinary collection, along with all prefatory material, original texts, critical apparatuses, and indexes. The column numbers of Jacques-Paul Migne, the collection’s original editor, are essential references for scholars; these materials are also included. Further details about the contents and features of Patrologia Latina can be found on the publisher’s website:

Electronic access to these 221 volumes will prove invaluable to students in upper-level courses by providing them with otherwise inaccessible primary source materials. A course on “Vikings and Monks,” for example, could draw upon the corpus of writings from the ninth century to provide a glimpse at how monks viewed the Viking atrocities they faced. A course on conversion, “Born Again in the Middle Ages,” could benefit from the lesser known writings of St. Augustine (famed for his conversion story in the Confessions) or the letters of St. Boniface, who describes his missionary activity among the continental pagans in great detail. The Patrologia Latina also contains many accounts of heretics and their supposed antics, which are oftentimes as entertaining as they are instructive. In other words, this immense cache of sources provides great insight into centuries that most people think we know little about. UCF students could accomplish two objectives at once with the Patrologia Latina: (1) learn to use an electronic corpus of texts to aid their research and writing, and (2) delve into understudied primary sources, enabling them to create original arguments in their work.

The $35,893 cost is a one-time purchase fee of the Patrologia Latina from ProQuest, a large database provider with whom the Libraries does business on a regular basis. This one-time purchase grants perpetual access and includes any future updates and additions of new content. There may be a small annual maintenance fee that is common for digital collections of this quality. If this is the case, the UCF Libraries will cover these fees from their annual materials budget.

The Patrologia Latina is 100% full text with high-resolution scans and can be read online or downloaded as PDFs. The collection is keyword searchable with a variety of enhanced search features including a single character internal wildcard, the ability to combine searches, the ability to mark records, durable URLs and bibliographic information for specific volumes, and the ability to limit searches to a range of volumes. This resource will be an invaluable asset to students of English, History, Modern Languages, and Philosophy, among others, who will have access to this premier historical resource, one that will put UCF on par with many of the top libraries in the nation.

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Student Access to Project Resources

The Patrologia Latina will be of great benefit to students in majors including English, History, Modern Languages, and Philosophy and in minors including Religious Studies and Medieval and Renaissance Studies. The databases will be available to an unlimited number of users, making the content easily accessible throughout the UCF community. We will make the collection available on the Libraries’ main database page as well as in relevant research guides. We will also link to them on the resources section of the English Department’s website and will encourage other departments to do the same. To further assist students in exploring and mining these resources, John Venecek, the Libraries’ liaison to the departments of English and Modern Languages, will create a research guide and will provide training on these databases during bibliographic instruction sessions. We will also present these collections at departmental meetings and provide workshops for faculty and students.

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Benefit to Student Learning

The scope of the Patrologia Latina is simply breathtaking: the writings of kings and emperors, of popes and bishops, and of various other intellectual leaders over a 1000-year period. Many of these writings are unavailable elsewhere and have not been printed in modern editions, and so the Patrologia Latina remains the definitive source for these materials.

The importance of this collection cannot be overstated: for students who wish to study early Christianity, the writings of the church fathers are invaluable. For students of apocrypha and early heresies, this corpus remains the most accessible one. History students working on early medieval Frankia or the Germanic regions would benefit immensely from the writings of Charlemagne’s court. Students working on Old English literature would have access to the most important Latin writings from Anglo-Saxons such as Bede, Aldhelm, and Alcuin. Because of the simple and effective user interface of the Patrologia Latina, students will be able to cull these treasures with ease. If they have an interest in a particular city, say, Lyon, they could search for it in the database and read every mention of the city over a thousand-year period. If they want to learn about a certain king, a simple search would yield every contemporary document written about them. The Patrologia Latina, in other words, gives researchers a front row seat to the inner workings of an entire millennium, allowing us to hear with our own ears the very words uttered by the era’s leading figures and thinkers.

Please see the attached support letters for further insights into the importance of this resource for student learning and faculty research.

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Project Success Metrics and Assessment Plan

The UCF Libraries will measure the impact of these databases through usage reports that track the number of individual hits and downloads. The Libraries will measure the success of these collections through COUNTER usage data provided by the vendors. These usage reports will be included in the Libraries’ Annual Report and will serve as an important benchmark. To achieve a meaningful quantitative assessment, a three-year time series comparison will be conducted three years after the full implementation of these resources. Once these collections have been integrated into classes and promoted through a variety of outreach efforts, we would expect usage to increase an average of 10% per year for the first three years.

In addition to the aforementioned metrics, we will also assess this project by consulting with selected faculty to review the collections and provide feedback on how they are being used in classes as well as the impact on student learning. We will work with teaching faculty and subject librarians to identify courses and programs that may benefit from these resources. This will be done, in part, though various outreach efforts including bibliographic instruction sessions, research consultations, the creation of a research guide, and articles in faculty newsletters designed to promote awareness and encourage use of these resources. 

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Project Sustainability

The requested funds will cover the one-time purchase of the entire collection, which will provide perpetual access to the databases included in this package. The Libraries will catalog the content and support access.

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Technology Fee Proposal Budget Narrative

The requested $35,893 will cover the purchase of  the Patrologia Latina from ProQuest. The price breakdown described above reflects a one-time purchase for perpetual access to all the collections with no immediate additional costs. All content and functionality associated will be hosted by the vendors, so there will be no new demands on UCF staff or infrastructure. Based on the most recent statistics of 66,183 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled as of the fall 2017 semester, the cost of these collections averages out to a mere 54 cents per student. However, with unlimited access and perpetual rights, this number will be even lower as usage increases. Furthermore, it should be noted that the list price of this database is $65,260. The UCF Library has negotiated a 40% discount (lowering the price to $39,156); if the purchase is made by December 2019, the discount is increased to 45%, resulting in a final price of $35,893.

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Space Administration

No space is needed for the project.

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