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Monday, 25th April 2011

Text Creation Partnership Makes 18th Century Texts Freely Available to the Public

By Theresa Cramer

From the press release:

The University of Michigan Library announced the opening to the public of 2,231 searchable keyed-text editions of books from Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). ECCO is an important research database that includes every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom during the 18th century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas. ECCO contains more than 32 million pages of text and over 205,000 individual volumes, all fully searchable. ECCO is published by Gale, part of Cengage Learning.


Read the full press release>>

Note that we received clarification from the University of Michigan on their plans:

The TCP’s product is actually not a specific database or website; rather, it is an archive of XML files that we hope scholars will use with any number of existing and yet-to-be-developed tools and products.

We will soon be making a full set of these files available for download, and users can use them on their own computer in whatever way they wish. Many scholars and projects are already working with a local copy of these files, but have (until now) been very restricted in what they can do with them—these folks will see the most immedeiate benefit from this announcement.  We are happy to deliver a set of the files to those who are interested. (If a reader wants this, they can contact tcp-info@umich.edu). The archive is also searchable through 18thConnect (http://www.18thconnect.org/), and upon request, the managers of that project can provide a plain text version of the entire set of texts.

We do host a searchable version of the texts here at the University of Michigan (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/e/ecco/), but are still working with our technical team to change the authentication system and open the site to the public.

Essentially, the announcement describes a significant change (toward openness!) in the legal and contractual obligations surrounding these texts. These changes take effect immediately, and we wanted to let current users of these files know—even though on our end, we still have some work to do ourselves to fully take advantage of this freedom to share the texts.


Theresa Cramer is the editor of EContent magazine and Intranets newsletter. She is a 10 year veteran of the publishing industry with a background in both newspaper and book publishing. Follow her on Twitter @TheresaCramer.

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