Finding and using historic books online

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The Library has access to thousands of contemporary books online, but did you know we also have online access to almost every work published in the English language from the invention of printing in the fifteenth century to the start of the nineteenth century?

Read on to find out about four of our major historic book collections online, and how to get the best out of them.

1. Early English Books Online (EEBO)

EEBO gives access to the full text of almost every book published in the British Isles and British North America between 1470-1700. It contains over 146,000 titles, including literary works, royal and parliamentary documents, ballads, tracts, and sermons, giving a unique insight into the cultural and political life of that period. You can read works by major figures such as Shakespeare, Newton and Galileo, as well as many lesser-known works. EEBO displays digital facsimile images of every page of content, and full text transcription is available for many of the texts.

You can search, browse and export from EEBO in various ways, and all the individual works are individually catalogued on Library Search as well. If you are likely to be making frequent use of EEBO, we’d strongly recommend you spend some time exploring this EEBO guide, as it gives tips on key aspects such as searching for spelling variants.

2. Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

ECCO gives access to the full text of every book printed in the United Kingdom, and territories under British colonial rule, in the eighteenth century. It contains over 180,000 titles, including literary works, royal and government proclamations, schoolbooks and petitions.

As with ECCO, digital facsimile images of every page are provided, and optical character recognition enables full text searching. All items are individually catalogued on Library Search, but we’d recommend searching directly from the ECCO interface to benefit from advanced search options, and special features such as term frequency and topic finder. As ECCO is part of the Gale Primary Sources platform, you can cross-search it along with other Gale resources, such as historic newspapers.

3. Early European Books

The Early European Books collection complements EEBO, and aims to encompass European printed material from circa 1450-1700.

Content comes from major European libraries, and is being added to regularly (we currently have access to over 25,000 titles). Facsimile images scanned directly from the original printed sources are provided, and detailed catalogue records help you search (we recommend choosing Advanced Search to see the full range of options).

These books aren’t individually catalogued on Library Search, so you’ll need to search directly from the Early European Books interface.

4. Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (OSEO)

OSEO enables you to explore old works in new ways. It brings together authoritative editions of major works, so you can explore variations between editions, annotations and extensive notes side-by-side with the texts, or you can just read the texts on their own.

We have access to 272 Oxford editions, containing 344 works, including poetry, prose, drama, essays and correspondence, in the following categories: Romantics Prose; Romantics Poetry; 18th Century Drama; 18th Century Prose.

You can browse by work, edition or author, or search in highly specific ways (e.g. just search within notes or stage directions) to pinpoint exactly what you want.

The editions are individually catalogued on Library Search, but we’d recommend searching for works and editions via the OSEO interface itself. If you haven’t used OSEO before, we’d strongly recommend watching this introductory video, so you can understand its potential and how to get the best out of it.

Fake News: the dangers of conspiracy theories

I actually enjoy a good conspiracy theory, and they often make for great film or TV tropes. Do you remember the end clip of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark where the American government are storing the Ark of the Covenant in a huge warehouse? Do you think this is true? Might governments be hiding top secret things from us in massive, unknown warehouses? I like to jest that I believe this is real.

However, it wasn’t until recently that I realised how dangerous really believing in conspiracy theories can be. Watching the storming of Capital Hill in Washington DC back in January this year, opened my eyes to how conspiracy theories could take hold and potentially endanger lives.

Like fake news, conspiracy theories have been around for a very, very, very long time. Here’s some that you might recognise:

Most recently, you may have spotted some of the dangerous conspiracy theories rising up around the Covid-19 pandemic.

Do you believe in conspiracy theories? Do you know anyone that really believes in them? Have you ever found it hard to talk to them about what they believe? In light of the conspiracy theories surrounding Covid-19, The European Commission have created 10 useful infographics to help people be aware of conspiracy theories, how they spread, the dangers of them, how to talk to people who do believe in them, and (like fake news), how you should think twice before sharing them online:

I found it particularly interesting to learn that it is basic human nature to question reality in periods of uncertainty/change/major incidents (such as the pandemic, 9/11, shootings of presidents etc.), hence this is often when conspiracy theories take off.

You’ll find these infographics on our Fake New Guide , along with other new content including links to some excellent videos and articles. Be sure to take our poll to share your favourite conspiracy theory movie too!

As a University student, it’s important for you to be aware of conspiracy theories; to know of the dangers they pose, to check your own beliefs and to be careful of what you share online. Use these resources to learn more and always remember, the truth is out there…

Resource in focus: Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice

Continuing our series of blogposts exploring our specialist humanities resources in depth…

Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice brings together a huge range of primary source materials relating to slavery and abolition studies from across the world, covering the time period between 1490 and 2007.

Primary source content

The content includes thousands of digitised sources, including images, maps, manuscripts, registers, ships’ logs and court records. It is arranged into sixteen broad themes, including Slavery in the Early Americas; Resistance and Revolt; Slave Testimony, and Urban and Domestic Slavery. Contemporary sources include materials from Anti-Slavery International, and submissions to the UNCHR.

Getting started

If you’re using Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice for the first time, we’d strongly encourage you to click on Introduction and take a little time to read about the content and themes, so you can get the best out of it: it is an extensive resource.

You can browse or search the content in various ways: we’d recommend choosing Documents from the top menu, as you can then browse by theme, geographic region, document type, date or more.

You may also find it useful to click REGISTER, so you can personalise your searching experience, including saving searches, documents and creating your own image slideshows.

Help and context

The primary sources are complemented by essays, tutorials and timelines to help you interpret the content: click on Further Resources from the top menu.

Have you used Slavery, Abolition and Social Justice? Please feel free to post your comments and tips by clicking Leave a comment below.

Accessing resources beyond the Library

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If you’re working on a dissertation, thesis or project right now, or will be doing so next academic year, what can you do if the Library doesn’t have access to all the specialist books and other information resources which you need? And how can you find out about resources relating to your research topic which are held elsewhere?

Current Covid-19 restrictions are obviously making it more difficult than usual to go ‘beyond the Library’, but there are still options available, and more should gradually return later this year. Find out below….

1. Search

You can search across the catalogues of over 170 UK and Irish academic and national libraries, together with other specialist and research libraries, via Library Hub Discover (formerly COPAC). The range of libraries included in Library Hub Discover is expanding all the time, and includes all UK universities, as well as the libraries of such diverse organisations as Durham Cathedral, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Royal Horticultural Society.

In response to Covid restrictions, Library Hub Discover is also making it easier for you to find Open Access resources via its catalogue, and it has also recently incorporated the HathiTrust Digital Library of over 17 million items.

For a more in-depth and up to date search, you can also search individual academic library catalogues online. Need to look further afield? Search library catalogues internationally via WorldCat.

If you are looking for archives elsewhere, whether in the North East or beyond, our colleagues in the Special Collections and Archives team have compiled a list of useful search tools.

2. Obtain

If we haven’t got the book you want, you can ask us to consider buying or borrowing it, via our Recommend a book service.

If you need a copy of a journal article to which we don’t have access, you can apply for it via our inter library loan service, which is currently free. Please note that inter library loans options are more restricted than usual during the current lockdown.

You can search UK doctoral theses via the national EThOS service. This has records for over 500,000 theses, of which over half are freely available online (do note you have to register with EThOS before being able to download).

3. Visit (virtually for now)

Under normal circumstances, the SCONUL Access Scheme enables students to visit most other academic libraries around the country. Unfortunately, this service has been suspended since March 2020, and is unlikely to resume this academic year (2020/2021).

However, if your research will continue in academic year 2021/2022, do check back with the SCONUL Access site, and/or the web site of any libraries of particular interest to you, in case visiting restrictions start to ease.

As with libraries, most archives are either closed to visitors at present, or only open with considerable restrictions. Nonetheless, archives services may still be able to answer queries, provide access to selected digitised items, or even a Virtual Reading Room, so it may well be worth enquiring, even if you can’t visit in person.

New resources on trial: Empire Online, and Church Missionary Society Periodicals

The Library has trial access to these two resources from Adam Matthew until April 13th 2021.

Empire Online brings together manuscript, printed and visual primary source materials for the study of ‘Empire’ and its theories, practices and consequences. The materials span across the last five centuries, and are accompanied by secondary learning resources, including scholarly essays, maps and an interactive chronology.”

Church Missionary Society Periodicals encompasses publications from the CMS, the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society, and the latterly integrated South American Missionary Society. Documenting missionary work from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, the periodicals include news, journals and reports, offering a unique perspective on global history and cultural encounters.”

To access each resource, click on the required resource title:

Empire Online

Church Missionary Society Periodicals

When you try to view any content, you will be asked to log in. Choose the UK Access Management Federation option, select Newcastle University, and then log in with your NU credentials.

You can browse or search the archives in various ways. To get an overview of what they cover, we’d recommend selecting the Introduction section first of all.

The trial ends on April 13th 2021. To help us evaluate it, please email us your feedback, or leave a reply on this blog.

PubMed: Becoming familiar with controlled vocabularies


Are your literature searches run mainly in keyword-based platforms such as Google Scholar, Scopus or Web of Science?

Have you been told that you need to diversify your search, or maybe use a new database such as PubMed? Did someone mention that MeSH terms could improve your search?

If you do not know what those terms mean or where to start, you are in the right place. The following video will explain to you what controlled vocabularies are and why they are a powerful tool for retrieving relevant papers.

Now, let’s put theory into practice and demonstrate how to use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in PubMed. The video below will do just that.

Let’s have a look at what other controlled vocabulary databases you can use in medical sciences or if your Social Sciences student whose work crosses over with medical sciences. You can find all the databases mentioned below and others in Library Search:

Since the previous videos focus on PubMed, you might wonder what other databases you should be using. If you are unsure how to find the most relevant databases for your course, you can watch a video that will show you how to identify them.

Is Medline the database for you, but you need some help with the basics? Watch our:

Finally, please remember that this is general advice and it might not cover your particular area of interest. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on Library Help, where you can email us or speak to us through the Live Chat feature.

New resource on trial: Cambridge Shakespeare

The Library has trial access to the Cambridge Shakespeare until April 4th 2021. This resource comprises various different components, including:

  • The complete New Cambridge Shakespeare series (41 volumes).
  • The New Cambridge Shakespeare: The Early Quartos series (7 volumes).
  • Shakespeare in Production (14 volumes).
  • The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare; over 300 international and interdisciplinary essays on Shakespeare and contexts.
  • Multimedia resources for each work, providing contextual essays and notes.

You can browse, search, and cross-reference the Cambridge Shakespeare in various ways, including by title of work or keyword.

The trial ends on April 4th 2021. To help us evaluate it, please email us your feedback, or leave a reply on this blog.

International Women’s Day in Law and Literature

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we have curated a list of all the books in the Law and Literature collection written by women. We also have a ‘Law School Pick‘ by Dr Ruth Houghton selected for IWD.

The Law in Literature collection has always strived to be diverse in stories, voices and authors. We are pleased to say that 50% of the books in this collection are written by women.

This collection, based in the Law Library, is made up of novels, short stories, plays, graphic novels and films that all reflect law in some way. We also promote films, TV shows and radio broadcasts through playlists on Box of Broadcasts (BoB). BoB is a free streaming platform available via Library Search with your campus ID (available in the UK only). Search for our public playlists using ‘Law in Literature Newcastle University’.

Is there a book that you think should be on our shelves, or a film to add to a playlist? Is there a subject you think would make a good BoB playlist? Do you want to recommend a book or film and feature as one of our ‘Law School Picks’? Want to review a book or film for our blog? Then get in touch.

Ovid Medline: Becoming familiar with controlled vocabularies

Are your literature searches run mainly in keyword-based platforms such as Google Scholar, Scopus or Web of Science?

Have you been told that you need to diversify your search, or maybe use a new database such as Medline, Embase or PsycInfo through the Ovid searching platform? Did someone mention that Medline’s MeSH terms could improve your search?

If you do not know what those terms mean or where to start, you are in the right place.

The following video will explain to you what controlled vocabularies are, why they are a powerful tool for retrieving relevant papers and it will demonstrate how to use Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) in Medline via Ovid.

Since the previous video focuses on Medline, you might wonder what other databases you should be using. If you are unsure how to find the most relevant databases for your course, you can watch a video that will show you how to identify them.

Is Medline the database for you, but you need some help with the basics? Watch our “Getting started with Ovid Medline” video for the basics. For a more detailed explanation on how to combine searches, watch the Combining Searches in Medline and other Ovid Databases.

Finally, please remember that this is general advice and it might not cover your particular area of interest. If you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact us on Library Help, where you can email us or speak to us through the Live Chat feature.

Mintel: Covid-19

As a globally recognised market analyst, Mintel produces hundreds of reports into UK-specific consumer markets every year. Each report provides a unique overview of a market’s dynamics and prospects, giving you the knowledge to devise informed and profitable marketing strategy. Mintel is also one of the many Business specialist databases that we subscribe to here at Newcastle University, which you can access via Library Search, or along with many other of our resources via our Business Subject Guide.

Recently Mintel has been providing ongoing insight and analysis across a range of industries to help you understand how and why consumer sentiment and behaviour are changing during the pandemic.

To find these resources, you need to go to Mintel (via Library Search) and there’s tab dedicated to Covid-19 analysis:

Screen shot of Mintel homepage highlighting the Covid 19 tab.

With over 200 results, there’s plenty to help any research project looking at consumer behaviour during this time.

Let us know if you have any questions or queries about this resource: lib-socsci@ncl.ac.uk