By Jutta Seibert
With print collections out of reach, digital books are having a moment right now. Continued off-campus access to part of the Library’s book collection will save many a student project in the coming weeks.
Falvey’s helpful e-book guide introduces the major e-book collections that are available to the Villanova community. One of the many boutique collections not featured on the Library’s e-book guide is ACLS Humanities E-Book. With over 5,500 humanities books, it is one of the smaller collections, but it punches above its weight and deserves a closer look.
The idea to explore digital formats for long-form publishing in the humanities goes back to the late nineties when the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) developed plans for a multi-press online collection of humanities books. The project was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. ACLS managed the project with curatorial assistance from some of its members, among them the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association.
The unique strength of ACLS Humanities E-Book collection is its ensemble of books in the humanities from a large group of university presses, among it such well-known names as Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Harvard University Press. The oldest books in the collection date back to the middle of the nineteenth century, but most of the collection represents scholarship from the last fifty years.
The search options on the native platform are limited, and readers are advised to access the collection through the Library’s catalog. An author search for ACLS Humanities E-book can be combined with Library of Congress subjects, classifications, and keywords. Access to the collection is available on the Library’s Databases A-Z list.
Among the many noteworthy and interesting books included in the collection are the timely America’s Forgotten Pandemic: The Influenza of 1918 by Alfred Crosby (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 2003), the seminal The Modern World-system by Immanuel Wallerstein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011), the pie in the sky Hotel Dreams: Luxury, Technology, and Urban Ambition in America, 1829-1929 by Molly Berger (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), and the quirky Fresh: A Perishable History by Susanne Freidberg (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2009).
ACLS Humanities E-Book and the many other e-book collections available through Falvey provide unprecedented access to humanities books in these unprecedented times.
Jutta Seibert is Director of Research Services & Scholarly Engagement at Falvey Memorial Library.