Technical aspects of the production process of digital books using XML-TEI at the Miguel de Cervantes digital library

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Alejandro Bia

    Libraries - University of Alicante

Work text
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Technical aspects of the production process of digital
books using XML-TEI at the Miguel de Cervantes digital library

Miguel de Cervantes Digital Library, University of Alicante


New York University

New York, NY




digital libraries

We describe the digital-book production process followed at the Miguel de
Cervantes Digital Library, from book acquisition up to Internet publishing,
highlighting the main requirements and design considerations of the workflow
Our library covers many different areas, from a "library of voices" up to
academic thesis and it includes all kinds of multimedia material: text,
images, audio and video. However, the vast majority of our resources are in
text format. These are our 4000 digital books, public domain Hispanic
classics, from the twelfth century up to these days, including narrative,
theater, poetry, history and other subjects. Many professionals and
technicians take part in the development of our digital books: librarians,
scanner operators, correctors, markup specialists and computer technicians.
The poster describes the production process of the digital books and allows
the discussion of markup issues concerning our approach using XML-TEI

Architecture of the digital-book production process

The production process begins with a bibliographic search to find interesting
available books to digitize. After selecting new literary works to add to
the collection, the librarians elaborate the orders to be sent to various
sources (conventional libraries, bookstores, publishers, private collectors
in the case of rare books, etc.).
Bibliographic information associated to each book is stored into a catalogue
database This information is used for many purposes: it helps in the control
of both the production process and the publication process, it allows
catalogue searches, and is provided to the readers in the form of a digital
bibliographic card accessible through the Internet.
The source physical books and the produced digital books do not always relate
in a one-to-one basis. In some cases, a physical book will give birth to
many digital books as is the case of collections or "complete works" that
may be split into several digital books (In a DL there is no reason to group
different literary works as it is done on a printed book, since the criteria
used for traditional books do not apply to their digital siblings. However,
there are exceptions. Literary experts may decide to group poems from
different collections into a single digital book.). Titles may differ also
since some works are known by many titles according to different editions.
Upon reception, the books are cataloged. Information like subject, authors
and collaborators, universal decimal classification and search keys that
will simplify the location and retrieval of the books is stored in a
database. At this point, the production process begins. The librarians mark
the received source titles as available for processing and a unique code
that will identify the d-book permanently is assigned. This code is used
within the workflow system, and also in the names of all the files related
to the book (during production and also for publication purposes).
At every stage of the production process start and end date-time information
is recorded along with the operator identification for follow up and
production control purposes. At any time, the librarians can access the
records of the d-books under development to modify bibliographic-catalogue
The resulting output of the scanning process is a set of files of two
classes: first, scanned images, and then optical character recognition
(OCR), text documents. The former are stored in backup media for future
projects. The latter, after an automatic error recovery process, are passed
to the correction stage.
At quality control, if too many errors are detected, measures are taken to
adjust the scanning-OCR process to improve the resulting output, since a
high rate of mistakes rise the time-cost of the rest of the process.
As our library handles books of many centuries of Hispanic literature
(including Spanish, Catalan and Galician languages), peculiar problems arise
which are not trivial, like the spell-checking of ancient writings. Projects
to tackle this time-dynamics of language are being carried out by our
research team.

The next stage is correction, where specialists in literature, history and
linguistics use a text editor to correct not only OCR errors but also
mistakes in the original publication, sometimes making side-by-side
comparisons among different editions.
Although some works of long extension, may be fragmented to facilitate the
correction task, it is desirable that a single person corrects each book, to
take advantage of the specialized knowledge she/he acquires during the
correction process of its contents and its peculiarities.
If the work was fragmented for correction, the markup operator joins the
fragments. It is also advisable that the markup be accomplished by the same
person that performed the correction, due to her/his familiarity with the
contents, but sometimes a different highly skilled markup specialist may be
preferred. So the system was designed to allow flexibility of task

Markup, consists of applying marks that describe the structure of the
documents, and also marks that indicate how the digital book should be built
later. These marks are concerned with index inclusion, chapter
fragmentation, hypertext linking and graphics insertion, among others.
One of our goals is to automate the markup process as much as possible. In
this sense, we have built parsing programs to convert documents from the two
major commercial text editors to TEI-XML, making use of the style
information to locate headings, deduct division borders, add TEI paragraph
marks, as well as <text>, <front> and <body> marks. The
result is an almost valid XML document, whose markup must be corrected and
completed. The markup effort is reduced substantially in this way, since the
most common tags like <p> are automatically added. Partial markup
processes like these save time, since they add the most common markers, and
generate almost-always valid (or valid with a few corrections) XML documents
to start with.
After markup, documents undergo a final revision before being passed to the
following stages. Documents that pass this check are considered final
products, and are preserved and backed-up accordingly.
From this point on, processing is automatic, and although we now generate a
few publishing formats, we expect to generate many more based on these
revised corrected marked-up files.

Generation of different file formats from XML-TEI

Generation and publishing
Finally, the digital book generation stage is a fully automated process where
marked-up XML-TEI files are processed by a parsing program that produces
HTML digital book files ready for immediate Internet publishing.
The use of templates allows us to generate different sets of books with the
same look and functionality within a given set, and a different look and
functionality for other sets. We use this approach to maintain several
different portals of the same digital library: the original one, Miguel de
Cervantes with books in Spanish language, the Joan Lluis Vives with books in
Catalan language, and many others.




Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange
(Text Encoding Initiative P3)
Revised Reprint, Oxford, May 1999

Chicago - Oxford
Text Encoding Initiative
May 1994

The Miguel de Cervantes Digital Library: The Hispanic
Voice on the WEB

Literary & Linguistic Computing

(to be published soon)

Presented at ALLC/ACH 2000, The Joint International Conference of the
Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing and the Association
for Computers and the humanities, 21/25 July 2000, University of

Expectations towards the adoption of workflow systems:
the results of a case study

Proceedings of the Sixth International Workshop on
Groupware: CRIWG 2000


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Conference Info

In review


Hosted at New York University

New York, NY, United States

July 13, 2001 - July 16, 2001

94 works by 167 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ICCH (21), ALLC/EADH (28), ACH/ALLC (13)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC