Archive for February, 2010

Searching EEBO

February 23, 2010

Last semester, when we explored ECCO, one of the concerns addressed was getting students acclimated to the product.  Even before students call up a digital facsimile of an eighteenth-century printed text and find themselves deciphering early modern fonts, they need to know how best to navigate an ECCO search.   Now that we have a free trial of EEBO, it might be useful to begin by discussing how best to help students become familiar with efficient ways to search EEBO.

A useful first step is to share with students Alice Eardley’s “video guide to using EEBO” on the University of Warwick’s web site.  The guide takes only seven minutes; at its conclusion, students will understand that EEBO holds both digital facsimiles and typed transcripts for some of those facsimiles, and they will have a working understanding of the icons associated with a given entry.  It’s the best introduction I have seen, and it calls attention to the value of video guides for presenting usage guides to electronic products.

I would be interested in hearing other responses to students’ initial contact with EEBO and to strategies they find helpful in beginning to make use of EEBO.


Access to Women Writers Online through March 2010

February 19, 2010

Julia Flanders has announced that during the month of March, access to Women Writers Online is available at    This provides an opportunity for enriching our discussions by addressing that resource.

Libraries through Students’ Eyes

February 15, 2010

One thing we have not discussed on this blog is the role of libraries, and particularly of reference rooms, in colleges.  Today’s  NY Times forum titled “libraries through students’ eyes” suggests some predictable student responses  to the question of whether libraries are needed:  students enjoy the tactile feel of books and the quiet of a space dedicated to reading.  Very few, if any, however, discussed the printed reference works to be found there. The value of the reference room was not mentioned.

The NYTImes forum pointed to twin pedagogical and institutional problems faculty, librarians, and students now face.  Forced to hunt for more space to accommodate computers, librarians look for printed texts that can be deleted from the reference room.  Are there rigorous strategies in place for what to do when an electronic source replaces a printed reference work?  Do colleges that subscribe to the new online Oxford Dictionary of English Biography, for example, simply throw out the older printed multi-volume set?  Does the online Encylopedia Britannica adequately replace its printed forerunner?  How do we evaluate an online “updated” version of a printed reference work to decide whether it ought to replace or merely supplement the older printed version?

Secondly, how can faculty best remain up-to-speed on the reference works students most use and, more importantly, be helpful in directing them to the sources, both printed and electronic, that are most appropriate for their work?  What strategies exist for encouraging greater and more transparent dialogue between instructors and librarians?  How do we help students make use of the two reference rooms–material and virtual–to which they have access?

Lastly, will the promising platforms of the future like 18thConnect include first-phase research tools, like encyclopedias, dictionaries, or the ODNB?  Will these platforms acknowledge printed resources that are also essential to research?  To what extent will these platforms be designed as introductions to research?

Great News! Temporary EEBO Access to Begin Feb. 22

February 6, 2010

Around February 22, and for 2-3 weeks following, readers of this blog will have temporary access to EEBO, thanks to the generosity of Proquest.  For those of us who do not normally have access to EEBO, this provides an excellent opportunity to explore EEBO, both in our research and in our classrooms.

Last semester, when Gale/Cengage provided a free trial of ECCO, Dave Mazella graciously spearheaded our discussion of teaching with ECCO.  We can now add to that discussion by hearing from readers how EEBO functions in classes and in research.  Newly updated with a helpful “EEBO Introductions Series,”  EEBO is adapting  creatively to the scholarly and pedagogical possibilities offered by the web.  Work EEBO into your classes and report back about your experience.  Or use it in your research, and let us know of any bibliographical glitches or goldmines.  Details regarding access will be provided here soon.

ADDED 2/24/10:  To access EEBO, click here.