Message from the Librarian

Brethren, Sisters & Visitors:

 

I’m delighted to participate in this electronic endeavor, which has been long demanded. The Masonic orders have no secrets, but it must be admitted that Masonic ignorance abounds – for no viable excuse, whatsoever! It’s not popular to say, but the Craft is well established in the 21st Century – spread the word!

 What is discovered on this site amounts to the “Rosetta Stone” of Freemasonry – the key to unlocking the past, in terms of “…. back to the future!” The key to the Craft’s success is to be found in its history; demanding an appropriate adjustment for the present – within obvious limits.

Beyond what Phoenixmasonry is currently presenting online, Phoenixmasonry has a terrific “inventory” of Masonic files (books and articles), which are slowly being edited and uploaded to the ‘Net. The task of organizing and uploading these files is huge. Relative to the ‘norms’ of the Craft, this site amounts to a renegade operation, in constructive protest to what Grand Lodges and Masonic research organizations should be refining and presenting on the Internet, of their own accord.

           In the 21st Century, the Research Lodges are mandated to change course. Their work just got easier; their works are more easily transmitted to their intended audiences and the demand for the consequent work (opportunity) increases dramatically. The technological impact seems to imply that the Research Lodges be more oriented around facilitating technology, than acting as the modern equivalent of the “scribes” of medieval Europe.

           The traditional Masonic libraries are also destined to change their format; a system of electronic research stations is demanded, to accommodate the electronic research of copyright protected work. Such libraries should be places of reading, study and research; not simply book repositories. Progress has a maddening way of occurring slowly; for the moment, so mote it be!

 Most importantly, this electronic endeavor represents an opportunity for others to participate – with appropriate recognition. The Craft is commonly discovered to be an opportunity for titles and egos; as opposed to the primal hunger for a thing called “legacy.” That is what this site represents – a fabulous legacy of great minds and works, featuring such names as Anderson, Preston, Oliver, Mitchell, Gould, Mackey, Morris, McCoy – and so many more. Current participating names are wanted.  The electronic library also means that these works can be easily translated into other languages. The electronic format also represents a resource for the sight impaired, with the ability to increase the text font size; or to deliver the information to the blind, via text-to-speech conversion. Possibly, the technology exists to electronically convert material such as this to quality audio-books on CD. Imagine listening to Mackey’s History of Freemasonry, while driving or flying cross-country!

 Physically frail documents can be electronically photographed and those images scanned into the various electronic formats. Voice-to-text conversion is another possibility for frail works, or handwritten records. Such technology isn’t to be considered “expensive,” nor complicated.  

Beyond the educational value, this site represents an opportunity in modern day fellowship – the giving and sharing of intellectual treasures. Some of the works are discovered to be in an unfinished state – requiring further editing, so as to bring them up to a “Near-Perfect” reproduction. Who wants to participate?

I have long said that I look forward to the day when others humiliate my personal endeavors by producing more and higher quality electronic files. The fact is that there is just such a ‘rage’ underway. The proverbial “bad news” is that such works are showing up on E-Bay; as opposed to Grand Lodge web sites. For the moment, the E-Bay works are usually locked-up PDF files. That means that the works can be read, but offer no greater advantage toward the demand for “cut-‘n-paste” text & graphics.

          In an ideal world, the spectrum of Grand offices need to establish a “Scribe Award” program for scanning and editing efforts -  with a lapel pin in the form of a quill, with a square & compasses (or other appropriate symbol) imposed on top of the quill.

          There is no substitute for the physical books, which these files emulate. Yet, if one doesn’t know what’s contained in such volumes, why would they seek them out, at a library or bookstore? These files are an intellectual bridge to the hard-copy which they represent. Hard-copy reproduction of the ‘ancient’ works is not a major task. Libraries, and bookstores will gain from the presentations of this site – as will those who read and study them.

           Such sites as this will also be the spring-board for new Masonic books, non-fiction and fiction alike. As an aside, those who wish to independently create such electronic files should inquire of this site, as to whether or not the files are “sitting on our shelf,” (or that of other similar awaiting a request – thereby eliminating duplication.

           Success begets emulation, if not far greater success. For the moment, it appears to start here.

 

Sincerely and Fraternally yours,

Ralph W. Omholt, PM

librarian@phoenixmasonry.org

 

 

 

 

         

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