Thursday, March 19, 2015

Women in Translation Database - Update and Plea


A few months ago, I posted a general call-to-arms/plea-for-help as regards the Women in Translation database. Many of you have by now likely noticed that the database currently online is both woefully out of date and dreadfully lacking in metadata. This is something I've been striving to change, though unfortunately I have found it difficult to work according to my originally planned timetable (obviously). I have also found that the work is virtually impossible to do alone.

I have asked a number of times for help on Twitter (and thankfully received it on occasion), but the problem with Twitter is that it doesn't show the whole story. And the whole story is actually quite simple in this case: I'm a bit swamped with school and music responsibilities (reminder: I am in a band, reminder: we released our first EP at the start of the year, reminder: I am shameless in advertising myself). I literally cannot go through over 1400 titles in the database and fill in the metadata for all of them by myself. It's the definition of "too much".

Most of the column options are fairly simple. All the titles currently in the database include the basic author-title (obviously), almost all titles have the language from which the book was translated (a rare handful have unclear original languages) and a couple dozen have full metadata. The metadata options are where it gets a bit more complicated: readers are encouraged to identify the "genre" to which the book belongs. There are two genre options, and both are fairly flexible - at the end of the day, I will go through them just for the sake of consistency.

The idea of the database is to make finding books by women in translation a little easier. The idea of the metadata is to help readers. And so genre is geared with the idea that someone seeking out romance books will be able to find them. Someone seeking sci-fi will be able to find it. Someone seeking books by Chinese women writers will be able to find them. Someone seeking books by a specific indie press will be able to find them.

Here's what I need you to do: Look at your bookshelves. Find your books by women in translation. Fill out the available metadata (US/UK distinctions are obviously a lower priority). And then pick 5-10 additional books or authors to "research" and fill in the metadata. One person alone cannot fill in close to 1500 titles. But if 150 people fill in the metadata for 10 books, we're done. Encourage publishers to add whatever books may still be missing from the database with their direct details. Encourage translators to point us to the works they've translated by women writers.

The purpose of this project is to serve the broader literary community. This is meant to be helpful to any and all readers who want to find diverse writing by women, from whichever angle. As long as women writers are so poorly represented (particularly in backlog titles), it's simply difficult to find their books. And so this database is here to help.

Please spread the word and help in whatever way you can!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, so I added a few entries, which was fairly easy and now I'm feeling quote good about myself =)...BUT, if I actually wanted to search the database through original language or genre, how would I do so? (sorry if this is obvious).


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