My18th

Gale and 18thConnect Partner to Improve Access to Eighteenth Century Documents

[18thConnect's work with Gale/Cengage has been publicized by a press release, copied in this message. Users of 18thConnect already have access to citations from Gale's ECCO catalog here.]

Farmington Hills, Mich., Nov. 4, 2010 — Gale, part of Cengage Learning, and 18thConnect, a scholarly organization dedicated to forging links between eighteenth-century archives and today’s digital research environment, today announced a partnership to share scholarly content and improve the searchability of documents within Gale’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) archive.

“Gale’s partnership with 18thConnect gives us a unique opportunity to collaborate with a leading scholarly organization in order to improve upon the user experience within ECCO, the leading database for research and teaching of the eighteenth century,” said Jim Draper, Vice President and Publisher, Gale.

Gale’s ECCO archive, one of the largest academic research collections of its kind, contains more than 180,000 key English and foreign language titles published primarily in the United Kingdom. Despite Gale’s use of the best in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, eighteenth-century typefaces can still be challenging to capture with perfect accuracy, which may impact results when searching or data-mining.

Recently, 18thConnect was awarded National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) sponsored supercomputer time to re-run page images from the ECCO archive through an open-source OCR program that will generate cleaner texts. This improved OCR-created text will be incorporated into ECCO, resulting in improved searching within the resource. In addition, registered 18thConnect users will then have the opportunity to review the improved texts and correct them using a tool housed on the18thConnect website. The correction tool will be built thanks to a grant awarded to Miami University of Ohio from the Mellon Foundation. Using this crowd-sourced correction tool, users can further correct issues not caught by the OCR process, and in exchange they will have the option to submit the revised text as a scholarly edition. 18thConnect will provide unlimited access to the corrected plain text or encoded text of the document submitted, depending on the researcher’s needs. Accepted scholarly editions will be filtered back into the ECCO archive on a periodic basis, and acceptance letters will be sent on behalf of researchers to the Promotion and Tenure Committees at their respective institutions.

“Working in Digital Humanities, I have come to appreciate the work Gale has done to preserve our cultural heritage, and this landmark agreement gives scholars, who deeply care about these materials, the opportunity to contribute to, improve and shape the archive for future scholarship,” said Laura Mandell, Professor, English/Digital Humanities at Miami University of Ohio and Director of 18thConnect.

The bibliographic information for ECCO is now freely searchable via the 18thConnect.org site. In January, registered 18thConnect users who are interested in improving these documents will have the option to correct texts returned in their search results.

For more information on this partnership, please contact Kristina Massari.

About Cengage Learning and Gale

Cengage Learning is a leading provider of innovative teaching, learning and research solutions for the academic, professional and library markets worldwide. Gale, part of Cengage Learning, serves the world’s information and education needs through its vast and dynamic content pools, which are used by students and consumers in their libraries, schools and on the Internet. It is best known for the accuracy, breadth and convenience of its data, addressing all types of information needs – from homework help to health questions to business profiles – in a variety of formats. For more information, visit http://www.cengage.com.

About 18thConnect

18thConnect is a community of scholars dedicated to peer-reviewing digital scholarship and gathering together the best electronic resources available in the field of eighteenth-century studies.  The 18thConnect.org web site is thus an online finding aid, a first stop for scholars searching for information in the field, providing on the My18 page mechanisms for saving searches, gathering texts to correct, tagging, note-taking, and composing.  It is a sister-organization to NINES.  Please see 18thConnect.org.

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