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  • History of the Initiative

    The e.Librarian, circa 1978 ...
    The e.Librarian, circa 1978 …

    1980 to the Present

    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?”

    At that 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.

    He said 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.

    At first, 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.

    Finding and buying older Steiner translations was one of the perks of this job. Haunting Mayflower books 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! Continue reading  Post ID 61