Text Creation Partnership makes 18th century texts freely available to the public

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This announcement is making the rounds of listservs and the like, and it should be of interest to emob readers:

(Ann Arbor, MI—April 25, 2011) — The University of Michigan Library announced the opening to the public of 2,229 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.

The Text Creation Partnership (TCP) produced the 2,229 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 has been a generous partner, according to 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 the University of Michigan and Oxford University, which since 1999 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 also just published 4,180 texts from the second phase of its EEBO project, having already converted 25,355 books in its first phase, leaving 39,000 yet to be keyed and encoded. According to Ari Friedlander, TCP Outreach Coordinator, 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 explains that, for a limited period, 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, says that 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.”

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

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

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6 Responses to “Text Creation Partnership makes 18th century texts freely available to the public”

  1. historikelly Says:

    This is fantastic news for ECCO users, but I”m unclear as to exactly what “freely available to the public” means. I could only find 23 texts on the ECCO-TCP demo, and any other searches required an ECCO log in. Following the links in the press release only took me to Gale’s product pages. Anyone else have better luck?

  2. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    I’ve not had time to follow up and investigate this announcement, but a quick look at 18th Connect suggests that 18thConnect is the source for this aaccess. Specific instructions appear under the News tab.

  3. arifried Says:

    Emob discussants may find this new post useful:

    http://textcreate.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/what-the-public-release-of-ecco-tcp-texts-means-for-you-now-and-in-the-future/

  4. Laura Mandell Says:

    Dear All–
    The “news” tab on 18thConnect gives instructions as to how to access these texts, but basically, just email me (lauraDOTmandellATgmailDOTcom). I’ll share a dropbox folder with you containing the texts. Best, Laura

  5. Eleanor Shevlin Says:

    Thanks so much, Laura. We are so very grateful to you, 18thConnect, and its partnerships with TCP and Gale.

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