By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘A Challenge That Scholarly Publishers Will Face’
[dropcapT[/dropcap]he Association of American Publishers has announced the winners of this year’s Professional and Scholarly Excellence Awards, PROSE: Bloomsbury Publishing has bested 550 contenders to win the RR Hawkins Award for the Arcadian Library Online, a specially designed and curated digital platform.
Bloomsbury partnered with the Arcadian Library to digitize its collection of rare ancient manuscripts and early books that document the shared cultural heritage of Europe and the Middle East.
As the Arcadian Library’s website points out, the mission of the collection is trans-cultural and based in the search for diversity and understanding: “The Arcadian Library is an exceptional, privately-owned library, which respects and celebrates the centuries-old interface between the Christian West and the Arab and Islamic World.”
Having launched with the Arcadian Library’s History of Science and Medicine holdings, the Arcadian Library Online is interactive, mobile-responsive, and searchable in English and Arabic.
The library digitally preserves for future generations its rare and historically important texts about agriculture, alchemy, astrology, health, disease, physiology, mathematics and physics, exploration and more.
In a prepared statement, Bloomsbury chief Nigel Newton is quoted, saying, “I am pleased for both our content services division, who digitized the Arcadian Library’s collection and launched this award-winning digital archive platform, and our new Digital Resources division, who have taken Arcadian Library Online to academic and scholarly libraries and institutions worldwide and are bringing its riches to new generations at a time when the need for inter-cultural understanding has never been more acute.”
In speaking to the quality and breadth of the Arcadian archive, Nigel Fletcher-Jones, director of The American University in Cairo Press and co-chair of the awards, said, “The platform is superbly designed to fulfill the deeply worthy and opportune mission of the library and, as a result, the Arcadian Library Online is a thoroughly worthy winner of the 2018 R.R. Hawkins Award.”
Steven Heffner, vice president of product strategy with Wolters Kluwer Health and Fletcher-Jones’ co-chair of the awards, has also contributed his congratulations, saying, “I’m particularly impressed with Bloomsbury’s thoughtful approach to the digital representation of the collection.
“They were able to balance the need for digital function and convenience while at the same time preserving some sense of the physical interaction with the artifacts. It is a challenge that scholarly publishers will increasingly face in the digital era—ensuring that the medium amplifies rather distorts the message.”
The RR Hawkins Award was created in 1976 to recognize the most outstanding scholarly work in all disciplines of the arts and sciences and the ultimate winner of a given year’s PROSE Award competition.
Press information delivered by the Bloomsbury offices tell us this about the next stage of development for the digitization project: “Bloomsbury is proud to continue to support the Arcadian Library in its digitization program, adding new modules this year and beyond. The first of these, Europe and the Ottoman World: Diplomacy and International Relations will be published in fall 2018.”
The Broader PROSE Awards: Five Division Winners
For 42 years, the PROSE Awards have recognized books, journals and digital content produced by professional and scholarly publishers. The awards are reviewed by a panel of 18 judges including editors, academics, publishers and research librarians for each work’s contribution to professional and scholarly publishing.
The wider program has 51 subject categories in five areas of excellence: Biological and Life Sciences, Humanities, Physical Sciences & Mathematics, Reference Works, and Social Sciences. Winners in each of the 51 subject categories compete for an award for excellence.
Our listing here is of the top honorees in each of the five divisions of the PROSE Awards. A complete listing of the category winners can be found at the Association of American Publishers’ website here.
Biological and Life Sciences
- Winner: MIT Press: Language in Our Brain: The Origins of a Uniquely Human Capacity
By Angela D. Friederici
- Winner: Oxford University Press: Jane Crow: The Life of Pauli Murray by Rosalind Rosenber
Physical Sciences and Mathematics
- Winner: Cell Press: CHEM (journal), Robert D. Eagling, editor-in-chief
Reference Works, Textbooks and Journals
- Winner: Bloomsbury Publishing: Arcadian Library Online by The Arcadian Library/Bloomsbury Publishing
- Winner: Adaptive Markets: Financial Evolution at the Speed of Thought by Andrew W. Lo
Again, the complete listing of this year’s 51 subject category winners is here.