During 2006/2007 Columbia University Libraries initiated a research and development project with the working title of "Papyrological Navigator" (PN). This effort was funded in part by Mellon funds allocated by Prof. Roger Bagnall from his 2003 Distinguished Achievement Award, in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (APIS 5 grant), and in part by Columbia University Libraries. The goal of this effort was to demonstrate proof of concept that a system can be designed to provide an integrated display of a variety of scholarly data sources relevant to the study of ancient texts.
The tools chosen for this prototype include portlet technology and a newer, highly functional image display software platform. The Navigator project builds on and moves beyond the creation of centralized "union databases," such as APIS, to leverage and integrate content created and hosted elsewhere in the scholarly world.
The Navigator prototype is being designed with an eye toward scaling, so that it will in principle be able to incorporate and integrate data sources far beyond the few initial sources we have used in this pilot. The choice of a portlet platform will also enable personalization and profiling so that scholars can make the tool more efficient for their particular type of research. An early version of the prototype has already successfully demonstrated the integration of a broad range of key papyrological sources including APIS, DDbDP, and HGV.