University of Michigan Library opens ECCO – Eighteenth Century Collections Online to the public

April 28th, 2011 · by spolanka · No Comments

The University of Michigan Library is opening to the public 2,229 searchable keyed-text editions of books from Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO).  The texts are available to the public at no cost.

ECCO is a research database containing significant English- and foreign-language titles printed in the United Kingdom during the 18th century and important works from the America The database is published by Gale, part of Cengage Learning.

The texts typed by the Text Creation Partnership, range from Pope’s “Essay on Man” to a “Discourse addressed to an Infidel Mathematician.”  The Text Creation Partnership (TCP) produced the keyed 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’s support for the TCP’s ECCO project will enhance the research experience for 18th century scholars and students around the world,” said Maria Bonn, Associate University Librarian for Publishing at the University of Michigan.

The Text Creation Partnership is “creating the highest quality 18th century scholarship in digital form,” said Laura Mandell, professor of English and Digital Humanities at Miami University of Ohio. Mandell is a key collaborator on 18thConnect, an online resource initiative in 18th century studies.

Since 1999, TCP has collaborated with scholars, commercial publishers, and university libraries to produce scholar-ready (that is, TEI-compliant, SGML/XML enhanced) 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 has recently published 4,180 texts from the second phase of its EEBO project, having already converted 25,355 books in its first phase; there are 39,000 texts to be keyed and encoded. According to Ari Friedlander, TCP Outreach Coordinator at U-M, the EEBO-TCP project is much larger than ECCO-TCP because pre-1700 works are more difficult to capture with optical character recognition (OCR) than ECCO’s 18th-century texts, and therefore depend entirely on the TCP’s manual conversion for the creation of fully searchable editions.

Friedlander said for a limited time, the EEBO-TCP digital editions are available only to subscribers — ten years from their initial release — as per TCP’s agreement with the publisher. Eventually all TCP-created titles will be freely available to scholars, researchers, and readers everywhere under the Creative Commons Public Domain Mark (PDM).

Paul Courant, University Librarian and Dean of Libraries, said large projects such as those undertaken by the TCP are only 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,” he said.

To learn more about the Text Creation Partnership, visit www.lib.umich.edu/tcp. To learn more about ECCO, visit http://gdc.gale.com/products/eighteenth-century-collections-online/.

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