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by Lars Aronsson, January 2003

Den här texten på svenska

Project Runeberg is an open and voluntary initiative to publish Nordic literature on the Internet. The project was started in December 1992. We have a small editorial office at Linköping University and hundreds of volunteers all over the Internet.

Would you like to help us?

You're welcome as a volunteer. We don't require anything of you, and there is no money involved, but you'll participate as a volunteer among others. Together, we're building the Internets biggest center for Nordic literature!

This page is rather long, but don't fear! The page contains information about various ways to help Project Runeberg. See it as a smorgasbord, where you can pick what you like. If you have any further question, contact our editors on the address editors@runeberg.org

From time to time, our editors have a hard time to keep up with assisting all our volunteers, resulting on long delays. In order to reduce their burden, we're now trying to introduce more of "self service" and make it easier for volunteers to help each other. As a volunteer, you must be independent and able to cooperate with others.

Mailing list

Our volunteers' most important tool is the electronic mailing list, a forum for questions, discussions and news about the project. The list is multilingual, just like our project. Most messages are in Swedish or English. Information about the list can be found on

The first of these addresses go directly to "Mailman", the software that runs the list. This is where you subscribe and unsubscribe. That is also where the archive over previous messages can be found. The second address leads to a wiki page about the list.


Wiki is a technology for web pages that can be edited by anybody. This sounds dangerous, but actually works very well. Project Runeberg runs an experimental wik on http://runeberg.org/wiki

This works like our common scratch pad for everything around the project. Here you can write things that immediately become available for all others, without waiting for the editors' attention. On the wiki, there is a list of "recent changes" that shows any recent updates. Wiki is easy to learn and great fun. You don't need to learn code language.

One popular wiki page is the wishlist, which lists suggestions for new functions and new contents in Project Runeberg.

Nordic Authors

Nordic Authors is Project Runeberg's own collection of presentations of writers and artists from the Nordic countries. Before we start scanning a new book, we write a presentation of the author. The presentation should fit on a page and contain information of the author's life, a list of works, and references to other websites or sources about the person.

We also write presentations for living authors, even though we don't have plans to scan their books. The author presentations can only be updated by our editors, so they must be submitted by e-mail. But every presentation also contains a link to the corresponding wiki page, where anybody can add information right away.


Copyright is a law that gives an author the exclusive right to publish her works throughout her lifetime and then for 70 more years. If we would scan books by Kerstin Ekman, we must have her permission, and for books by Pär Lagerkvist, we would need the permission of his heirs.

But when the author has been dead for more than 70 years, the copyright expires and then nothing can stop us. This is true for Edith Södergran (died 1923) and Hjalmar Bergman (died 1931). Works by these authors are in the "public domain". This is why we need to know when every writer died.

Selecting the proper copy

When we're to scan a book and have checked up on copyright, we must select a proper copy. For most readers, just about any copy will do, but if a scholar wants to reference a book it should be a first edition or the collected works, and not some cheap paperback. Since it is a lot of work to digitize a book, it pays to do some research to find the best copy. This research can be documented in the author presentation. Or on the wiki.

Digital facsimile editions

Sometimes a reader contacts us with questions about typographic errors. Should the text really say "en kuvert" in the song about Sandels i Fänrik Ståls (http://runeberg.org/fstal/1k.html)? Shouldn't it rather be "ett kuvert"? To save our editors from running to the library to check the printed book, we have found that we must scan facsimile images of every text page. These images are made available the web, so the reader can see for himself exactly what was printed in the book.

We cannot know if "en kuvert" was a typographic error or printed so on purpose. Our guideline is to exactly represent the printed book. Our oldest electronic editions (before 1998) did not have facsimile images, which we regret today.

For the best resulst, we scan i bitonal black and white with the resolution 600 dpi and save the images in the TIFF G4 format. Every book page becomes 20 - 200 kilobytes. This works for books in black and white. Color images are scanned separately.

In addition to the facsimile image, we also run optical character recognition (OCR) software that produces an editable text file for each page. The text file can contain OCR errors and must be proofread. Since the facsimile image is available on the web, the book can be proofread by another volunteer on the other side of the globe.

Apart from scannign and OCR, we must also make an index or table of contents listing the chapters or articles of the book. For a typical novel, this is done in two minutes, but for an encyclopedia like Nordisk familjebok it takes a little longer. For an introduction (in Swedish) to the latter, read http://runeberg.org/wiki/Indexering_av_uggleupplagan

Online proofreading

Online proofreading is a news in 2002, yet another step towards self service at Project Runeberg. We simply make the facsimile image and raw OCR text file available together on the web before proofreading. Under the facsimile image is a link that encourages the reader to fix any errors. This can be done directly in a web form. This idea is actually very close to the wiki concept. There is also a "recent changes page, where voluntary proofreaders can keep an eye on each others efforts.

Our system for online proofreading is still a prototype and needs to be further developed. We hope to be able to do this under 2003.

Welcome as a new volunteer for Project Runeberg!

Lars Aronsson,

Project Runeberg, Thu Dec 20 03:34:56 2012 (aronsson) (diff) (history) (download) << Previous Next >>

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