Here is the link to the proposed American Studies Information Community at the University of Virgina that sounds very much like the kind of portal I would like to develop for George Eliot studies.
An Information Community is a group of scholars, students, researchers, librarians, information specialists and citizens from similar or dissimilar fields, whose common link is a shared information need. This information need can be oriented around a subject, a field, a methodology, or a data type. The information can include text, data, digitized media, images, and formal and informal scholarly exchanges of ideas. Information Communities exist as a medium for bringing people together and making them aware of opportunities and resources. Community is fostered by personal communication, shared interests, shared research materials, shared tools, and shared standards. Information Communities add value to information, and offer opportunities for using information in new and different ways. Activities of the community can include creation of web-based materials, development of portable tools for enhancing access to the materials, and managing of conferences and publications. Information Communities foster innovation and spark new areas of research, and usually result in a tangible body of knowledge for consumers.