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Feel the love

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If Valentine's Day finds you looking for love in all the wrong places--or at least, not finding it anywhere--here's a thought: the Internet.

Maybe you've already been there or ruled that avenue out. Maybe you're "not the type" to turn to chat rooms, electronic dating services or other forms of virtual romance. But now it seems Cupid's fired a new arrow from the Web server in the basement of Duke University's Perkins Library.

Called "Love and Electronic Resources," the database at www.lib.duke.edu/databases/dd_new.htm is a portal to the vast and varied materials on matters of the heart now available online. It includes such diverse items as Duke's historic American sheet music collection, gay and lesbian research abstracts, and immense collections of free romantic literature, poetry and digitized art.

Created by Duke's instruction librarian Emily Werrell and reference librarians Phil Blank and Danette Pachtner, the site offers this factoid from an online journal: College undergraduates experience an average of 1.45 "romantic episodes" a year.

While researching the collection, Blank says he was struck by how much notions of love have changed over time. "You ever eat a piece of cake and someone says, 'Mmmm... cinnamon!' and the next bite, you really taste that cinnamon?" he asks. "I wonder if love isn't like that. It's always been there, but as artists, religious folks, thinkers and writers have pointed out the different facets of love, we've been able to feel it better."

Duke's collection isn't just for the lovelorn. It also offers plenty for folks looking for insight on the intricacies and possibilities of their current relationships.

So, log on in the name of love. It could be only a mouse-click away.

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