Home » Uncategorized » What the Public Release of ECCO-TCP Texts Means for You, Now and in the Future

What the Public Release of ECCO-TCP Texts Means for You, Now and in the Future

On Monday, we announced the opening to the public of 2,231 ECCO-TCP texts produced from Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online archive.  Today, we’d like to explain the implications of this release, now and in the future, with particular attention to the accessibility of this resource.

As of Monday, any interested person can request copies of this digital corpus in two formats: plaintext files, and TEI-encoded sgml/xml files.  We at the TCP are happy to distribute the sgml/xml files directly (this usually entails some individual back and forth with our production folks to figure out exactly what format they want, and the best way to deliver it).  Please contact tcp-info at umich.edu to put in a request.  If you would prefer a plaintext version, Professor Laura Mandell, the director of 18thConnect.org, has graciously offered to take requests via email from any scholar interested in receiving one.  You can contact her at laura.mandell at gmail.com

For the moment, therefore, freely available to the public means we’ll send the texts to anyone who asks, as soon as we can, and they’re free to do what they like with them.  Likewise, those who already have a copy can do what they like with them.  We are also working on adding a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark (PDM) to these texts, although the implementation of that mark and its associated metadata standards will take a bit of time.

We are currently working on making these texts publicly accessible through the interfaces hosted by the TCP. Michigan and Oxford host instances of the ECCO-TCP texts with links to Gale’s ECCO images, and we are working with those who manage these systems to lift the restrictions on the texts while retaining restricted access to Gale’s ECCO page images (which we don’t have the right to distribute freely).  We also plan to make full downloads of the ECCO-TCP corpus – in either format – available through our website soon.

So, why did we make this announcement now, when technical work remains to be done?  There are two reasons.  First, many individual scholars, as well as the folks at 18thConnect and other projects, are already using the ECCO-TCP texts locally, and thus far their ability to share and collaborate with colleagues has been significantly restriced.  There’s no reason that all these folks – who are co-owners of the files and helped to fund their creation – should have to wait any longer to start using and sharing these texts more freely.  Second, we wanted to begin to receive and process requests for these materials as soon as possible, in order to speed these files into the hands of those who want them.

We are very excited that Gale has allowed us to open this corpus to the public four years ahead of schedule.  This release is our first opportunity to open up our cultural heritage materials to the public, and to help ensure their circulation and preservation in a digital commons.  Open access is the genetic legacy of our work at the TCP, and we hope you’re as thrilled as we are to witness and cultivate its first flowerings.

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