Recently the GSU Library was able to purchase two databases for full text books: Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) and Early English Books Online (EEBO) see Find Articles & More. The professors and graduate students in the English and History Departments were delighted since they had been asking for these databases for a long time. One English professor told me last spring that the purchase of these databases had revitilized his publishing efforts. Last Friday I received a call from the Research Support Desk: an economics professor had questions about using these resources for a project he was working on dealing with the words orthodox and heterodox in relation to economics. He had tried Google books with poor results, so I went to work. I immediately identified some difficulties with the databases. The full text cannot be searched in EEBO since we only purchased the images. Words can be searched within books in ECCO, but most of my initial results were books in religion. The question was how to identify the works that were really concerned with economics. I had two potential authors, William Petty and Adam Smith, who were known to use these terms, but what was the best way to indentify other authors? I had a hunch that if I could search the proper subject heading (Economics–History–18th century) in a library catalog, I might be able to find other works from the same time period. However, even though I found a few books from the 18th century and tried searching for them in EEBO & ECCO, I still did not find the words, orthodox and heterodox (see Oxford English Dictionary for the definition in Find Articles & More.) So I went back to, GIL, (keywords economics, 18th century, bibliography) and found a recent book Before Adam Smith: the emergence of political economy, 1662-1776 ULGC HB83 .H8 which listed many pre 18th century writers and their works and as a bonus, the word orthodox was in the index! I met with the professor who is said to have more library books checked out than any other professor on campus. I think he was impressed with my results since he commented “you managed to find several books in economics I didn’t have checked out!” We both agreed that the research process can be complex, but rewarding and that you have to get your hands dirty. I showed him how to search ECCO for several of the authors identified in the book I had found in the stacks. We all love Google book search and our wonderful online databases, but sometimes there is nothing like an old fashioned book that you can hold in your hand. The old and the new work great together!
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