The Digital Library

Early English Books Online

Early English Books Online is a vast collection of searchable digital facsimiles of virtually every book printed in English before 1700.

Today, library users are coming to expect instantaneous, 24/7 access to information. Digital sources are searchable, reproducible, and distributable in ways that paper resources are not, making research faster and even new kinds of research possible.

Like others, Haverford’s Library is adapting its service and collection paradigms. In large digitized corpora like Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Eighteenth-Century Collection Online (ECCO), Haverford now offers digital copies of every extant text in English from 1475 to the early 19th Century, including many of the same titles from the 1836 Haverford catalog. Roughly half of the College’s journal collection is now electronic. A growing array of reference sources, student theses, and rare and unique materials are also in the digital library and will be joined in the near future by the born-digital documents, images, and recordings that students and faculty create.

However, new environments and expectations pose new challenges. Unlike the physical library, much of the digital library is leased or licensed from publishers or companies that aggregate sources; it is not housed at Haverford but rather at distant data warehouses. Moreover, rapid technological change makes the digital library just as expensive as its physical counterpart--housing electronic materials requires an architecture under constant renovation, and the texts, recordings, data, and images themselves become shape shifters as storage media, the software needed to use them, and access mechanisms become obsolete.