Background.PhiloBiblon includes three main bibliographical databases: BETA (Bibliografía Española de Textos Antiguos), BITECA (Bibliografía de Textos Antics Catalans, Valencians i Balears), and BITAGAP (Bibliografia de Textos Antigos Galegos e Portugueses). In its current state, PhiloBiblon is the latest iteration of a project started [End Page 323] in the last quarter of the twentieth century by the Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the publication of BOOST (Bibliography of Old Spanish Texts), originally compiled starting in 1974 as part of the Dictionary of Old Spanish Language Project, and which saw three printed editions (1975, 1977, and 1984).
In 1985 the editorial work was moved to Berkeley, and in 1987 a grant from IBM allowed the porting of BOOST from a mainframe flat file database into Advanced Revelation, a DOS-based relational database. In 1993 the DOS version of PhiloBiblon, which already included BETA, BITAGAP, and BITECA, was published on CD-ROM as part of disk 0 of ADMYTE (Archivo Digital de Manuscritos y Textos Españoles). In 1999 The Bancroft Library prepared a new, revised, and expanded edition of the DOS version that was published on CD-ROM. In 2001 an NEH grant made it possible to port the database from the Advanced Revelation DOS database management system to the corresponding Windows-based system.
The Berkeley team had already begun porting PhiloBiblon to HTML format by 1997. When it became available, this first web-based version allowed searches by author and title or on free text extracted from the descriptions of manuscripts and printed editions. The current web version of PhiloBiblon (http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/PhiloBiblon/) draws its data from a new version of the underlying database system to which all the information of the component bibliographies was ported in late 2008.
As one can easily imagine, the purpose and scope of the PhiloBiblon project have evolved considerably since 1974.1 Today the three independent databases attempt to provide comprehensive union catalogs of all the primary sources—non-notarial texts dealing with any subject matter (e.g., history, law, science, agriculture, theology, or philosophy), as well as imaginative prose and poetry, both in manuscript and printed format, before 1800, with selected MSS from the nineteenth and even twentieth centuries that may reflect now-lost originals, and books printed before 1520. BETA focuses mainly on texts written in Castilian, although it also contains materials in related dialects: Leonese, Navarrese, Aragonese, and Mozarabic, as well as aljamiado materials in Hebrew or Arabic script in any of these dialects. BITAGAP pays attention to the texts originally composed in Portuguese, Galician-Portuguese, and Galician, or translated into those languages. And BITECA, for its part, deals with the manuscripts and printed editions that contain medieval Catalan works. As of March of 2012 the number of entries in each of [End Page 324] the three databases is as follows: 33,373 in BETA, 65,064 in BITAGAP, and 31,640 in BITECA.
UsingPhiloBiblon. When we first access the PhiloBiblon website we are welcomed by a simple but effective interface (http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/PhiloBiblon/searchwork_en.html). The main menu and links to access the PhiloBlog are placed on the left hand column, and the textual contents are displayed on the right. It should be noted that, due to the multilingual nature of the project, both the interface and the contents are available in Catalan, English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with a Galician version in the works. To switch languages one just needs to click on the flags on the top right corner of the page. The main menu provides access to the following sections:
• Home: the initial page.
• Search: access to the five available search types, described in detail in the next section.
• About PhiloBiblon: general information about the project, including bibliographies, preferred citation, language, statistics, web version, windows version, history, acknowledgments, and copyright.
• Help: general information on searches, uniform resource locator (URL), and character set. There are also links to the help manuals for each specific bibliography. These manuals are available in Spanish for BETA, and Catalan for...