Monthly Archives: December 2019

State of MTP: General Update

I took the reins of MTP in early 2014. At that point, plenty of obvious Church classics like the Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, Talmage’s The House of the Lord, The Lectures on Faith, History of the Church, History of Joseph Smith by his Mother, etc. etc. were not readily available in Kindle format from any free, reputable source, despite having been out-of-copyright for many years.

At this point, that problem has been solved. Obviously the Project Gutenberg catalog is still not comprehensive, but it’s not embarrassing either; the key things are there, along with a healthy sampling from the long tail. Few people are going to read everything on our Available Texts page and still want a lot more where that came from. (If you do, please get in touch–I imagine you are an interesting human being).)

So, where to now?

I do not anticipate adding a lot more books to Project Gutenberg. There are a few works that might be out of copyright due to non-renewal (which is a lot harder to demonstrate than expiry), and I might tackle one or two of them eventually. If and when copyrights expire, for example on more of Widtsoe’s work, that will open up a few more options. But I think we’re past the point where it makes sense for me to try and get tons of people to proofread tons of stuff, all of which I then post-process and put up on PG.

I am still interested in trying to get more people to read the books, and generally using MTP to further the work of the Church. To that end, I may put up some more posts focused on commentary, quotations, etc. I want to actually read some of the stuff that I have only been able to post-process! We’ll see how this goes, and I will be interested in feedback.

Eventually content production may drift to a halt–we shall see–but I do expect to keep the site up more or less indefinitely in its role as a passive index to what is on PG. We do seem to get some level of recurring traffic from search engines, which I assume is driven by that sort of thing.

As the book-mass-production phase closes, I offer my thanks to everyone who made it happen. Dozens of people have each donated many hours of their time to proofreading and other tasks, some anonymously. Research assistants Mariah Averett and Steven Fluckiger did outstanding work, supported by a few generous donors, under the supervision of Dr. Alonzo Gaskill at BYU. Ben Crowder founded MTP and inspired me to follow in his footsteps. My wife offered heroic support.

Thanks, everyone.

Renah Holmes, Most Valuable Proofreader

Stop what you are doing and be inspired by Renah Holmes, who has probably proofread more early church literature than you have read.

Renah has volunteer proofreading credit on nineteen different e-books. (Name the last nineteen early church books you read…) That number is not because she’s been taking the softball projects, either–she’s worked some of the most doorstop-worthy volumes we’ve ever done, including Scrap Book  of Mormon Literature vol. 1 and History of the Church vol 5. She has done literally thousands of pages of proofreading.  And she just knocks it out. She is easily the most prolific proofreader I’ve ever been blessed to work with.

Her productivity, and the fact that I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her in person, almost makes me wonder if she is secretly a whole basement full of people operating under an assumed name. Against that idea, though, her work has been incredibly consistent and high-quality ever since she started in 2014. This comes through in the finished product, as you can appreciate. It also makes my work in the the post-production process super easy (which has also tended to result in more books getting done sooner).

Be like Renah Holmes. You’ve sort of missed your chance to proofread a ton of the most important old church books and help make them freely available (not least because Renah already did, to the point that the low-hanging fruit has been picked). But maybe if you consistently pour hour after hour into volunteer work for years you, too, can make thousands of peoples’ lives a little bit better, even if they will mostly never know who to thank.

Thank you, Renah Holmes.

 

(P.S. Renah, hopefully this isn’t too embarrassing, but I suspected you might be too modest to want it posted if I asked permission, so there you go.)