Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, April 28, 2011

U-M Library announces 18th century texts to be available online

The U-M Library announced the opening to the public of 2,229 searchable, keyed-text editions of books from Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO).

ECCO, a research database that contains every significant English- and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom during the 18th century as well as important works from the Americas, is published by Gale, part of Cengage Learning.

The Text Creation Partnership (TCP) produced the texts in collaboration with Gale, which provided page images for keying and is permitting the release of the keyed texts in support of the library's commitment to the creation of open-access, cultural heritage archives.

Gale has been a generous partner, says Maria Bonn, associate university librarian for publishing. "Gale's support for the TCP's ECCO project will enhance the research experience for 18th century scholars and students around the world."

Laura Mandell, professor of English and digital humanities at Miami University of Ohio, says, "The 2,229 ECCO texts that have been typed by the Text Creation Partnership, from Pope's 'Essay on Man' to a 'Discourse addressed to an Infidel Mathematician,' are gems."

Mandell, a key collaborator on 18thConnect, an online resource initiative in 18th century studies, says that the TCP is "a groundbreaking partnership that is creating the highest quality 18th century scholarship in digital form."

This announcement marks another milestone in the work of the TCP, a partnership between U-M and Oxford University, which since 1999 has collaborated with scholars, commercial publishers, and university libraries to produce scholar-ready text editions of works from digital image collections, including ECCO, Early English Books Online (EEBO) from ProQuest, and Evans Early American Imprint from Readex.

The TCP also has just published 4,180 texts from the second phase of its EEBO project, already having converted 25,355 books in its first phase, leaving 39,000 yet to be keyed and encoded.

TCP Outreach Coordinator Ari Friedlander says the EEBO-TCP project is much larger than ECCO-TCP because pre-1700 works are more difficult to capture with optical character recognition than ECCO's 18th-century texts, and therefore depend entirely on the TCP's manual conversion for the creation of fully searchable editions.

Friedlander explains that, for a limited period, the EEBO-TCP digital editions are available only to subscribers — 10 years from their initial release — as per TCP's agreement with the publisher. Eventually all TCP-created titles will be available to scholars, researchers, and readers everywhere freely under the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries, says that large projects such as those undertaken by the TCP only are possible when the full range of library, scholarly and publishing resources are brought together.

"The TCP illustrates the dynamic role played by today's academic research library in encouraging library collaboration, forging public/private partnerships, and ensuring open access to our shared cultural and scholarly record," Courant says.

More than 125 libraries participate in the TCP, as does the Joint Information Systems, which represents many British libraries and educational institutions.

To learn more about TCP, go to www.lib.umich.edu/tcp. For more information about ECCO, go to gdc.gale.com/products/eighteenth-century-collections-online.