New-ish to the Library is the fascinating ACLS Humanities e-Book collection, from the American Council of Learned Societies. This impressive collection has almost 4000 full-text scholarly books across the wide gamut of the traditional humanities (history; art & architecture; film & media studies; literature & literary criticism; linguistics; music, dance, performance; philosophy; political science, religion, and even sociology, to name a few). There is a strong focus on “historical studies” focused on “African, American, Asian, Comparative/World, Eastern European/Russian, Economic, European, Latin American, Legal, Medicine, Methods/Theory, Middle East, and Science/Technology.” You can download an Excel spreadsheet of the specific book titles included if you want to take a look.
Okay, we know it’s huge. Even the title is a mouthful – so much so that you’ll see even the authors refer to it as ACLS HEB, or even just HEB. So what can you do with HEB? Happily, the collection boasts both an easy to use browse feature (that allows you to browse by title, author, or subject) and a very robust search engine that lets you quickly find titles / subjects / authors of interest. Within a few clicks, you have the full-text of the book right in front of you.
Once you find a book of interest, you can enter the book from its ACLS title record page. You can go to the first page of the book and page your way through, or enter specific chapters / page ranges by using the linked Table of contents. There are book reviews for my title linked on the page, plus the full citation and full cataloging record. You can even get a larger version of the book jacket by clicking on your book’s image.
I found the book, Buñuel and Mexico: The crisis of national cinema, by Ernesto R. Acevedo-Muñoz and published by the Univ of California Press in 2003. So you can see what I mean, here’s a graphic of the ACLS title page for the Buñuel cinema book I found.
Once you enter the full-text of your book, you can even choose the best display – page image, text, or pdf – for your own reading comfort or downloading / printing needs. You can also easily adjust the size of the page if you need a larger font or need to see an illustration in greater detail.
Speaking of illustrations, the few illustrations from book contents that I have seen have not been of the greatest quality. This is probably the only drawback I can see during my own quick review of this collection. Let me show you what I mean.
Hmmmm…… in a fantastic collection like HEB, it’s disappointing to see such blurry and grainy images. This one comes from a book called Gay L.A. by Lillian Faderman. There are lots of illustrations in this interesting book and none of them seems to be scanned clearly, which is really too bad. It’s just not the same high quality images you will find in the original hardback book. I haven’t found illustrations in other HEB books yet to compare but my guess is that this may be a current weakness throughout this collection. You’ll need to see what you think.
So, do use this collection to find a surprising breadth of full-text eBooks in the humanities. Don’t expect to find high quality book illustration images you can use (copyright permitting) in other projects. You will though find nice quality reproductions of book covers. And yes, you can find these books through Quick Search too. Overall, a big positive addition to the Library’s collections. Give ACLS HEB a test drive and let me know what you think!