Ebook Collections: JISC Historic Books

This guide highlights a range of ebook collections, giving details on the content of the collections, and how to use them

About JISC Historic Books

JISC Historic Books provides one platform to search three collections:

Early English Books Online (ECCO) - Scanned images, and where available, digital editions of over 125000 books published in English between 1475 and 1700.  

Subjects covered include:

English Literature                                        History                                      Philosophy               

Linguistics                                                    Theology                                   Law                                      

Music                                                             Fine Art                                     Education                                   

Mathematics                                                Science

Early English Books Online includes key works of the period, including the works of Shakespeare and Newton's Principia Mathematics


Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) - A collection of all books published in Great Britain and its colonies from 1700-1799, over 180,000 titles in English, Dutch, French, German, Latin, Spanish and Welsh.  It includes books, bibles, sheet music, sermons and advertisments.  

Subject covered include:

History and Geography                                Social Sciences                              Fine Art, Music, Art and Architecture

Medicine, Science and Technology          Literature and Language              Religion and Philosophy

Law                                                                 General Reference     


Both scanned images of the original documents, and digital editions are available in ECCO.

British Library 19th Century Collection - A collection of more than 65,000 first editions from the 19th Century, which are out of copyright, which include the original typeface and illustrations.  

Subjects covered include:

Philosophy                                          History                                              Poetry & Literature

Both scanned images of the original documents, and digital editions are available.


Accessing JISC Historic Books

JISC Historic Books can be accessed on or off-campus 

  • Use the link above, and click Search JISC Historic Books
  • Scroll down the list of Institutions and select University of St Andrews
  • At the University of St Andrews SSO page, enter you username and password
  • You are now logged in


Can I access all the Ebooks on JISC Historical Books?

Yes - you have access to the complete collection

Search JISC Historic Books

JISC Historic books has a Basic Search and Advanced Search option.

Basic Search

  • Provides a single search field, where you can enter your search terms. The documents retrieved from the search will have your search terms somewhere within the document.
  • You have the option to limit your search to one, two or three of the databases
  • Use the Date fields to limit to a time period you are interested in
  • Choose the number of results displayed per page
  • Choose to find books, or pages within books.

Advanced Search 

  • Provides multiple search fields, allows you to search for exact phrases, keywords, etc, and allowing you to decide which fields to search,e.g. title, author, place of publication. 
  • You have the option to limit your search to one, two or three of the databases
  • Use the Date fields to limit to a time period you are interested in
  • Choose the number of results displayed per page
  • Choose to find books, or pages within books.


The results page will provide a summary of the number of documents matching your search.  You will also see what collection they come from. There are search refinement options on the left of the page if you need to narrow your results.

Print and Download options

When you have found the document you want to use, click the title of the document to open it.

Read Online 

You can read the whole of the text online.  The default display option is to provide an image of the pages.  All books in the BL 19 Century Collection, and Eighteenth Century Collection Online (ECCO) are available as page image files, or as text files, which may be clearer to read.  Some of the Early English Books Online (EEBO) documents are also available as text files.

You can navigate through the documents using the forward and back navigation buttons at the left and right of the screen.

Use the toolbar along the top to choose view in single page mode, two page mode, and to enlarge/reduce using the zoom option.

Download or Print

You are able to download or print any document available through JISC Historic Books, please note files are not available immediately, please allow 24-48 hours for your requested file to be prepared:

  • Open the document as decribed above
  • Click the download button  located at the top right of the page
  • Choose either Page image or Text Only from the options
  • Enter the email address you want the document sent to
  • Choose to download the Current Page, a Range of Pages, or the Whole book using the options given
  • Choose to include bibliographic information as this version of the information is authoratitive and may be needed if you want to cite the document.
  • Choose confirm.

An email will be sent to you with a link to the document you have selected, please note this isn't instantaneous, the time taken may depend on the size of document.  The delay is due to the technical process of creating your document, more information can be found in the FAQ section of the Jisc Historic Books website.

The email will come from JHB Print Server (historicbooks@mimas.ac.uk) and will contain a link to a pdf version of the document requested.  Please note that the link will only work once, once you have clicked the link you will need to save or print the document if you want to have future access without going through the download process again.  

JISC Historical Books Video

Jisc Historic Texts Beta Search

Jisc are currently providing a Beta test site for a new platform - JISC Historic Texts.  This is site will see new developments added.

Ask a Librarian

Need help? Chat to Library Staff, Monday - Friday, 9.00-17.00 using the box below.  When "Ask a Librarian" is unavailable email library@st-andrews.ac.uk with your question.