We had a refresher training session today on some electronic resources for reading early printed books online. These resources are available both onsite at NLS and to registered readers using computers outside the library. They mean that we can offer instant access to images of thousands of complete books and newspapers, both material that we hold in the library and many other items for which we don’t have actual print holdings.
For instance, we offer access to Sabin Americana, which contains digital images of the books in a famous bibliography of the Americas. In the library, we hold both the original edition of the book A Plea For Woman by the Scottish feminist Marion Kirkland Reid and a modern reprint, but through Sabin we can also provide access to the American edition, called Woman, Her Education And Influence, a book which had a strong influence on early American feminist thought. [Note: the link goes directly to the Sabin resource].
I would love to know how people use this kind of material. Would you prefer to have access to as wide a range of material as possible online, or is it more important to you to visit our reading rooms to look at the original? Sometimes it’s difficult for us to know whether a reader who asks us if we have a book would be delighted to find that they could read the text sitting at home. Do you think we should direct our readers to the digital images in the first instance, or do you think that we should assume that people want to see our copy of the original unless they tell us otherwise?
A complete list of these resources and information about how to access them can be found on the Licensed digital collections page of our website.