Building a New Historical Texts Service

Jisc Collections purchased perpetual rights to Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collections Online for the Academic Community in the UK. This allowed UK institutions to gain access to these collections for just an annual platform fee (as the content has already been purchased). Over the past 5 years this platform fee has been creeping up, and so Jisc Collections decided to develop a platform the allow us to host all the content in EEBO and ECCO as well as add other content.

We initially created the Jisc Historic Books platform,, although generally well received, the interface did not fully meet the needs of the community. As it was difficult, as well as expensive, to make major changes to it, in 2013 the decision was made to build a new platform from scratch. We decided at this point user involvement in the development of the service would be the key to its success.

We already had an Advisory Board including academics of English and History as well as Librarians (who pay for the subscriptions) and recruited a large user group (mainly from users who had experienced problems with the service). Both of these groups have been involved at all stages in the design and functionality of the new service. They have helped shape the specification of the service, fed back on initial wireframes, tested the service as it develops and discussed online complex issues such as exactly how a search could be constructed with our software developers.

In addition the Advisory Board has helped shape the future of the service by prioritising future developments for the service.

This paper will explore in more detail how the users have shaped the service, how they will continue to shape the service as we go forward, and demonstrate some of the unique features the new Historical Texts service has.