Finding and using historic books online

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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.

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

Photo by JK on Unsplash

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.

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.

Enrichment week: resources to support your dissertation

Thanks to everyone who booked on our three ‘Enrichment week’ sessions to support your dissertation or project. We’re posting below links to the key resources we highlighted, so you’ve got them all handy in one place, whether you were able to participate in the sessions or not.

Getting a head start

If you’re at the early stages of planning your project or dissertation, or perhaps thinking ahead to next year, then you can get ahead of the game with our dissertation toolkit.

Search planner

This interactive toolkit includes a proposal planner, to help you refine your initial thinking as you develop your proposal, and a search planner, which takes you step-by-step through each stage of the process to create your own personalised literature search strategy. It will help you develop your search terms, identify different types of information resource, evaluate what you have found, and formulate a plan for keeping up to date and managing your references.

Our toolkit will help you translate vague thoughts into a firm plan of action!

Nearing completion: final checks

If you’re well into your dissertation or project, you may well have some last minute aspects you need to check.

Are you sure you haven’t missed any recent research in your area? Find out about 360 degree searching and make sure you check key resources for your subject area on your subject guide. Are there particular types of information missing from your search: for example: data, news, reports, images? Visit our resource guides for inspiration.

Resource Guide screenshot
Resources guides

How is your bibliography shaping up: are all the references accurate and correctly formatted? Visit our managing information guide for all the answers, including a link to the Cite Them Right ebook for specific queries relating to a type of resource or referencing style.

Need more help?

You can book a one-to-one appointment with a member of the Library liaison team, and/or email us your draft search plan using our search planner.

Special Collections and Archives

Virtual Reading Room

Depending on your subject area, you might want to make use of some of the Library’s fabulous Special Collections and Archives in your research, or find out more about the possibilities of using archives elsewhere.

Start with the Special Collections home page: all the links you need for how to find and use our collections, including digital and virtual services while the Reading Room is still closed.

Need inspiration? Not sure where to start? Anxious about archives? Try the practical Special Collections guide for friendly, expert advice about using our collections in your research or finding collections elsewhere. Or why not see where your ideas take you with our great new Primary Sources Research Planner?

Slides

Here’s a copy of our slides from our referencing drop-in session:

New resource on trial: Oxford World’s Classics

The Library has trial access to the new Oxford World’s Classics online platform until March 21st 2021.

This provides access to 301 novels and other works from the 18th and 19th centuries from around the world, including novels by writers such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Fyodor Dostoevsky, as well as works such as Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species.

Each work is accompanied by extensive notes, introductions and commentaries. You can browse or search the collection in various ways (for example: by author, subject, keyword or time period).

During the trial, the books won’t be individually catalogued on Library Search, so you will need to access them via the OWC platform. The trial ends on March 21st 2021. To help us evaluate it, please email us your feedback, or leave a reply on this blog.

Resource in focus: Bibliography of British and Irish History

The Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) is a database of over 600,000 records about British and Irish history from 55BC to the present day. It indexes publications from the early 1900s to the present, including journal articles, books, book chapters and theses, making it an indispensable resource for finding secondary literature. It’s updated three times a year, and is curated by historians, so it’s a very high quality, well-organised database.

Searching

You can search it in various ways, including by subject, author, place and date. Choose Advanced search to get the full range of options, including browsing a subject ‘tree’ (or index) to help you select appropriate search terms, and broaden or narrow your search.

Finding the full text

Your records will link to the full text article at Newcastle University Library if we have access to it. Just click to display the details of a record, and the full text links will be at the bottom of the record in an external links section.

If we don’t have access to the full text of an article, there won’t be an external links section. Please note that if the item you want is a book or book chapter, BBIH won’t link to it automatically, so you’ll need to search for the book separately in Library Search.

You can export records in various ways to create your own bibliography: just click on Export at the top of the screen to see the options.

Need more help?

BBIH has recently released a really helpful set of short videos and guides, aimed at first and second year students; students doing a dissertation or thesis, and lecturers.

Get the latest news about BBIH, including content updates and features, via its blog.

Get more out of Box of Broadcasts!

Have you met BoB? Box of Broadcasts is a fantastic resource for all subject areas: an archive of over two million radio and television broadcasts from over 75 free-to-air channels, including all BBC channels, ITV and Channel 4, plus some international channels. New programmes are added to BoB as they are broadcast each day.

We know it’s a very popular resource, but are you getting the best out of it? Here are some quick tips for newbies and experienced users alike!

Smarter searching

BoB is a huge database, so searching by keyword may retrieve a lot of irrelevant results, especially as the default search looks for your keyword in all programme transcripts (i.e. every word spoken in a programme). Click on the Search options link just under the search bar to see various ways of making your search more precise, including searching in the programme titles only, or limiting by date. This help video gives more detail:

Playlists and clips

You can create your own playlists: really helpful if you’re researching for an assignment, or preparing to teach a module. You can also search public playlists curated by other BoB users around the UK: just select Public playlists underneath the search bar, or explore this showcase of playlists for more inspiration.

BoB curated playlists

Clips are really easy to make too:

Need more help?

Got more BoB questions? Try their extensive FAQs or take a look at their updated collection of short video guides.

New resource on trial: Irish Times and Weekly Irish Times archive

The Library has trial access to the Irish Times and Weekly Irish Times archives until March 10th 2021.

This covers the full content of the titles back to their first issue: from 1859-2015 for the Irish Times, and from 1876-1958 for the Weekly Irish Times.

“From the aftermath of the Great Famine, the launch of the Titanic, and the Easter Rising of 1916, to the World Wars, the Troubles, and today’s most pressing global social issues, Ireland’s “only independent newspaper” lends its authoritative voice to local and international events alike.”

The trial ends on March 10th 2021. To help us evaluate it, please email us your feedback, or leave a reply on this blog.

You may also be interested in the Irish News Archive, to which we have permanent access.