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Compass Newsletter Masthead
   Volume III, Issue 3
February 2007   

Eighteenth Century Collections Online -- Falvey adds significant primary works collection

Last November, a group of faculty members and librarians gathered with great anticipation for a live presentation of a new resource, Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). Faculty members attending the ECCO demonstration voiced their excitement about the research possibilities offered by this new resource. Others not there in person wrote in their support for ECCO. What makes this particular database so interesting and integral?

According to publisher Thomson/Gale,

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) can be used to access the digital images of every page of approximately 150,000 books published during the 18th Century. Included are all significant English-language and foreign-language titles printed in Great Britain during the eighteenth century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas. ECCO also includes a small number of non-English language materials published in Britain, including works in Latin, French, German and Spanish. With full-text searching of about 33 million pages, the database allows researchers new methods of access to critical information in the fields of history, literature, religion, law, fine arts, science and more.

Dr. Cristina Cervone, English department, compared not having ECCO as part of the library’s collection to a “gaping hole in our access to early printed texts.” Dr. Hugh Ormsby-Lennon, another English department faculty member, pointed out that ECCO together with Early English Books Online (EEBO), which Falvey already owns, gives the University community access to nearly all books published in English between 1485 and 1800.

Dr. Michael Tomko, from Humanities & Augustinian Traditions, noted that together these two resources will enable undergraduate and graduate students to do original archival research here at Villanova.

Dr. Craig Bailey has already integrated ECCO resources into his graduate course on British economic and social history. Falvey does own some of the works contained in ECCO in microfiche format, but as another faculty member informed us, “I hate microfilm and Falvey’s microfilm readers!” Yes, we know.

If your imagination is not already in overdrive, here are a few examples that will entice you to take a closer look at ECCO. Included are over 560 volumes of the Daniel Defoe editions, 245 volumes of David Hume’s work, 182 editions of Edmund Burke’s writings, Aristotle in both Latin and English translations, including the Hobbes’ translation of his Rhetoric, almost 150 volumes of Miguel de Cervantes’s work, mainly English translations of Don Quixote, 46 editions of Benjamin Franklin’s writings and much more.

Further, ECCO contains all five 18th century editions of Isaac Newton’s Opticks. In the past, Falvey only had access to the first edition on microfiche. Now scholars can compare the five consecutive editions right at their desktop.

ECCO is a significant addition to Falvey’s collection, adding 150,000 volumes to the approximately 760,000 volumes currently held by the Library without taking up any shelf space!

These volumes can be accessed by University faculty, students and staff from anywhere on campus and in the world. ECCO is based on optical character recognition (OCR) processing of scanned microfilm which makes it possible to search the full-text of the scanned materials. Contents are accessible via author and title searches. Place of publication, publisher and keywords in full-text are other available search options. Keywords are highlighted in the retrieved results. Limits include years, subject area, language and different types of illustrations such as maps, cartoons and portraits.

Persistent URLs make it possible to integrate links to selected volumes or pages in ECCO into WebCT and online syllabi as well as into bibliographical references. All 138,000 works contained in ECCO will have records with links to the online version in VUCat, the library catalog.

A multi-year funding plan made it possible for the Library to acquire this important resource. Through ECCO, Villanova University students and faculty have access to the printed knowledge of the 18th century English-speaking world. Only the biggest research libraries could make a claim like this before EEBO and ECCO became available.

If you have not already done so, check out this great new resource via the library home page on the Databases by Title page.

Contributed by Jutta Seibert