Each day during our celebration we will focus on a single aspect of the Foundation. Today Librarian Garry Eaton guides us through some of the holdings of the Foundation Digital Library, and THF president Jim Kacian does likewise for the hard copy collection.
The Haiku Foundation Digital Library (DigLib) had a productive 2016. In addition to normal increases in the size of its existing online collections of books (490), journals (310) and essays (318), two new collections were started. First, we now offer a collection of theses and dissertations. Over 100 academic dissertations on haiku related subjects have been written in English so far, and we already possess more than 50 in PDF format, thanks to Dr. Randy Brooks of Milliken University, who generously shared his files with us. These are now being catalogued and will be made available to our readers as permissions to republish are obtained. While this collection is small at the moment, it will grow significantly in the coming years. Our second new collection for 2016 consists of audio tapes in MP3 format, featuring haiku poets reading from their works. It’s small so far, but we are actively researching what’s available and are open to receiving contributions from anyone with worthwhile material.
In other activity, a significant effort was made in 2015 by THF volunteers to prepare and file an application for a grant of approximately $25,000 for the Digital Library from The National Endowment for the Humanities. The money would have been used to purchase new scanning equipment and to fund a major effort to scan the thousands of volumes of haiku and haiku journals remaining sequestered in The Haiku Foundation’s hard copy collection. Though our application was rejected in April, 2016, this was a learning experience from which we have already benefited. Of particular interest here is one deficiency NEH evaluators pointed to, the lack of meaningful statistics to enumerate and track changes in user demand for our online library. Therefore, in 2016, with the leadership of our webmaster Dave Russo, we installed “Addthis Web Analytics” to measure levels of usage. Once that was up and running, I began promoting the DigLib more heavily on social media, offering links to free library offerings on my Facebook and Twitter accounts to attract new readers and to stimulate old ones who subscribe to these websites to visit us more frequently. The results have been encouraging, insofar as reader usage has risen by an estimated 33% in the period for which we have statistics, from an average of 30 to an average of 40 visits per day.
In 2017, the marketing campaign will continue to bring the DigLib to the attention of a growing readership and we hope it will help us create a better, larger library and a more useful and attractive reader experience. We will, of course, continue to add to our collections, to bring free books to you through THF’s blog at the rate of one per week and to supplement these offerings with additional free titles of interest from the various collections through social media. Anyone who isn’t yet following me on Facebook or Twitter is welcome to Follow of Friend me and thereby get access to these posts.
I hope that this look behind the scenes at the effort it obviously requires on the part of many people to bring the DigLib to you will encourage users to give generously in this year’s fundraising campaign. We can only continue if you do.
The Haiku Foundation Hard Copy Library is one of the largest such collections in the world. We are in the process of cataloguing our holdings, so an exact number is not available at present, but a conservative estimate suggests that we currently house some 3500 discrete titles, as well as 5000 journal issues. We are also in possession of some 500+ duplicate copies of books. Finally, we hold some few hundred books in various special collections, such as the Cor van den Heuvel Archival Library, the Martin Lucas Archival Library, and soon, the James W. Hackett Archival Library. When cataloguing is complete all these resources will be made public on the THF site. Books are supplied to the library primarily in 3 ways: 1. Older and rare books are purchased outright by the Foundation. This depends upon availability of books we don’s currently hold, as well as the funds to purchase them. Nothing notable was added to the library in 2016 in this manner. 2. New titles are acquired through the Touchstone Distinguished Books Award application process. Over 100 haiku titles are published each year around the world, and this systemic approach brings 90+% of them directly to the THF library. 3. A variety of books are received from libraries and collections bequeathed to the Foundation by poets and/or their executors. We discussed the THF Archives on an eearlier date during the 2016 celebration and fundraiser. Our hope is to make the library as complete as possible, as a resource for haiku research and scholarship, and to digitize as much as is legally permissible to make this work available to any interested party. We plan to continue in 2017 in the same manner.
Once a year we ask the haiku community to help us meet our financial challenges. We reserve the period from Thanksgiving through St. Nicholas Day, the time our culture has has set aside to note our many blessings and show our appreciation. Thank you to those of you who have already contributed. If you have not done so yet, please take this opportunity to help us continue our work — details on our donation page. Again this year we have the support of an anonymous angel who will double your donations — for every dollar you commit, the Foundation receives $2. Please help us make the most of this generous offer, and thanks in advance for your support of The Haiku Foundation, and of haiku itself. We wish you a most happy holiday season.