of the Initiative
to the Present
The e.Librarian, circa 1978 ...
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Werner Glas and Hans Gebert were both
at the Rudolf Steiner Institute, then located in Southfield,
Michigan. The e.Librarian — then affectionately known as “the
bearded one,” or “that guy over there” (see photo)
— was fairly new to Anthroposophy at that time, and was
constantly bombarding both of the “G-men” with questions
like, “Do you remember where Steiner said such-and-such?”
Or, “Was it in this lectures series, or that lecture series that
Steiner referred to blah-blah?”
time, the e.Librarian had over 15 years of experience in developing
databases for computers, so it was suggested to Dr. Glas that a
database be created with all of Rudolf Steiner's works in it. This
database could be used as a reference tool by the Anthroposophical
Community. As a side benefit, it would free up time for him as it
would keep me busy and out of his hair — that elicited a smile
and a pat on the shoulder.
this would be a very large project, considering the amount of data,
and that there were no electronic copies of any of Steiner's writings
at that time. But he did think it was a worthy effort, and that it
should be someone like the “bearded one” to tackle it.
Other folks at the Institute thought it would be a great thing to do,
though very time-consuming.
the writings were typed in — my being the worst 2-fingered
typist in the world didn't help — and it was indeed a
slow process. There were about 100 Steiner books in my library at
that time, and it looked like an endless job! As the technology grew,
and hand-held scanners became available, the books were scanned
electronically and converted to text. The technology may have grown,
but it was a long way from what it is today. Character recognition
was primitive then, and it took hours just to get cleanly scanned
pages, and more hours correcting and proof-reading each document.
and buying older Steiner translations was one of the perks of this
job. Haunting Mayflower Book Shop was a great pastime, and traveling
around, seeking out the odd bookstore to rummage through their
shelves was a real treat, too. You never know what you'll find:
I went into a small bookstore in Hollywood, Florida where they only
sold used paperback books, specializing in mysteries. I came out with
about 30 old Steiner paperbacks from the 60's and 70's!
Internet has been around for quite some time: the late 60's is
when computer to computer communications began, and the late 70's
is when a network of colleges and universities was created: the
Internet. My company, Creative Computer Consultants, Corp. (later,
C4 Systems, Inc.), was one of the first to create software to
“link” the automotive companies with their suppliers.
This was not the Internet, but still computer to computer
Internet “went public” in the very late 80's and early
90's, so we became an entity on the Net, offering the lectures
as email attachments. Very soon after this, we put our servers on-line
offering web, gopher, and FTP services. They are all still in operation,
though greatly expanded, as we only had 60 lectures at that time.
Everything was in a database, and all of the content was dynamically
— on-the-fly — served. Search and display tools were
developed just for this initiative, and we were off and running. In
1996, we changed our domain name to “elib.com” and then
incorporated as a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit corporation in the State
of Michigan, USA!
network of worldwide volunteers, including the e.Librarian, does the
scanning, converting, and proof-reading. These texts are then
converted to an Internet-friendly format and stored in our database
where users from all over the world can access them and use the
research tools we provide.
computers we use have changed, also: in 1982, we had one Radio Shack
16B Xenix computer with two, 8 inch floppy disks and an 8 Megabyte
hard drive; in 1992, we had one Altos Unix server with three,
20 Megabyte disks. Now all 16 Unix servers, with over 2 Terrabytes
of disk space, are housed at an off-site facility, specially designed
for serving information to the Internet ... we can administer our
servers from anywhere in the world, and users from virtually every
nation on Earth can access the information we serve!