Over 25,000 early English books released into the public domain
Since January 2015 over 25,000 early English texts from 1473-1700 have been released online to members of the public under the CC0 Public Domain Dedication through the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP). Since 2000, the university libraries of Michigan and Oxford and ProQuest have been working together in this initiative to create electronic text versions of early printed books from ProQuest’s Early English Books Online, Gale Cengage’s Eighteenth Century Collections Online, and Readex’s Evans Early American Imprints.
While these texts were previously only available to users of academic libraries participating in the partnership, at the end of the first phase of EEBO-TCP the current 25,000 texts have now been released into the public domain. They include highlights such as first printed editions of Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Milton, but also a wide variety of lesser known texts on topics ranging from sword fighting to witchcraft and gardening manuals. Users can not only browse and read through the text of these early English books, but also search through the entire corpus (which consists of two million pages and nearly a billion words). Searching for keywords and themes is possible as well because the text has been encoded with Extensible Markup Language (XML). An additional 40,000 texts will be released into the public domain by 2020.
Connected with this release, The Bodleian Libraries are hosting the Early English Books Hackfest in Oxford on 9 March 2015. The event encourages students, researchers from all disciplines, and members of the public with an interest in the intersection between technology, history and literature to work together to develop a project using the texts and the data they may generate.