What’s new in ebooks: a platform roundup

It’s been a busy few months in terms of ebook platform refurbishments, so we thought it was time to pause and review some of the changes (and hopefully improvements) that have been implemented by providers.


ACLS launches new, improved platform

ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB) is a US-based digital collection of over 5,400 seminal books in the humanities and related social sciences. Books in the HEB collection have been recommended and reviewed by scholars and constituent learned societies of the American Council of Learned Societies.

ACLS Humanities E-Book collection has been available to Cambridge users on a somewhat clunky, old-fashioned platform for some time, but is now accessible on a brand-new platform powered by Fulcrum, offering the following new features:

  • A more visually compelling and modern site, with a browsable catalogue that is easy to navigate.
  • ‘Read online’ format for all titles in a new e-reader that includes features like pageturner and scroll views, an always-present table of contents, and citation and search widgets. The reader also aims to meet WCAG 2.0 AA accessibility standards.
  • An enhanced e-book home page that provides quick access to the table of contents, reviews, metadata, and statistics, as well as easy access to the e-reader and chapter downloads. (Note that due to the large file size of chapter pdfs, we have found that chapter pdfs can be slower to download than on other ebook or ejournal platforms, and therefore ‘Read Online’ is recommended for rapid browsing or skimming the text).

Links for ACLS titles in iDiscover now redirect to the new platform, as does the platform link on our ebooks LibGuide.

ACLC Humanities is updated annually. Here is a list of the 259 new titles added in August: ACLC-new_titles_Aug_2018

Brill Online Books and Journals to move to Brill.com on November 30th

BrillcomBrill has been beavering away on Brill.com, a new platform to replace the existing Brill Online Books and Journals. All of our purchased content is being moved to the new site ready for November 30th, when the legacy site will be taken down, but the vast majority of our content is already there, so you can take a peek before November 30th if you wish.

According to Brill, the benefits of the move include:

  • The new platform consolidates information about print and online publications on one single page, rather than on separate sites, as before.
  • A fresh, crisp, uncluttered design.
  • The site works well on all types of devices.
  • DOI links will be available at the chapter level as well as the book title level.
  • Easier ebook ordering for site administrators.

We are assured that our ebook links in iDiscover will point to the new site from December, but please contact ebooks@cambridge or the UL’s English Collections team if you see anything that doesn’t work.

Manchester Medieval Sources Online now on Manchester Hive

MMSOThe 36 titles within the ‘Manchester Medieval Sources Online‘ collection from Manchester University Press are now available on Manchester Hive, MUP’s new online platform. The platform offers:

  • Easy browsing of available titles with abstracts.
  • Clear and intuitive design.
  • DRM-free PDF downloads for each chapter or section as well as full book downloads in either HTML or PDF.
  • Full book downloads include hyperlinks, making navigation through the text easier (from TOC to content and from content to footnotes).
  • Handy citation and sharing tools.

MARC records for all 36 titles within the collection are in iDiscover and now point to the new platform.

VLeBooks: new platform, more publishers, better accessibility


Not a platform redesign, but a brand new aggregator platform for us, VLeBooks offers a broader range of publishers (including trade publishers) and improved accessibility for print-disabled users. For more information, see our recent blogpost.

All of these platforms are available on and off-campus to members of the University via our ebooks LibGuide or via links to individual books in iDiscover. Off-campus access is via Raven (VLeBooks requires a Raven login on and off campus).

As usual, please contact ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk if you have any questions about these platforms or any other aspect of ebook provision at the University.


Manchester Medieval Sources Online

mmso-book-coversThanks to the Seeley Historical Library, the Connell Fund and the ebooks@cambridge Service, the Manchester Medieval Sources Online collection is now available for Cambridge University registered users. This series has been in existence for over 20 years and is an authoritative publication for expert translation of medieval primary sources that would otherwise be inaccessible to students and scholars alike.

mmso-picThis collection provides translations of key sources that are directly usable in student’s own work, with full, accessible contextual introductions and helpful annotations throughout. From the terror of the Black Death to the drama of the Norman invasion, these books provide texts central to medieval studies courses and focuses on the diverse cultural and social, as well as political conditions that affected the functioning of all levels of medieval society.

There are currently 32 titles in the series, and these will be updated with 2 new publications annually. This series is very useful for teaching and for research, in the case of translated chronicles and particularly the ‘selected texts,’ which typically provide an accessible ‘slice’ through a variety of unpublished archival material. The series is edited by Dr Rosemary Horrox (University of Cambridge) and Professor Simon MacLean (University of St Andrews) and has had other editorial contributions from other Cambridge faculty.

The records for the MMSO titles will appear in iDiscover in early December. In the meantime you may access the collection both on and off campus from here or from the link on the ebooks@cambridge collections web page. If you have any questions or feedback on this ebook collection please contact the ebooks team at ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk.






Manchester Medieval Sources Online – free trial

MMSO base bigTrial access is now available to a collection of 25 ebooks on the Manchester Medieval Sources Online platform.

Trial ends Saturday 30 November 2013.

Do you think this series is useful to have as an online resource, or could the platform be improved in any way? If so please send feedback to Linda Washington in the Seeley Library at lw213@cam.ac.uk, or email the ebooks team at ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk

From the Black Death to the Norman invasion, Manchester Medieval Sources gives History students the opportunity to study medieval life through first hand accounts, some of which have been translated into English for the first time. The series is unique in providing extensive introductory and explanatory material alongside the sources to enable students to understand the various interpretations the sources have had.

Series editors are Rosemary Horrox (University of Cambridge) and Simon MacLean (University of St Andrews).

All available titles are indicated by a small green box. PDFs can be read online or downloaded chapter by chapter.

Trial access is from on-campus only and you won’t be able to find these ebooks in LibrarySearch, so please use the following link for access:


Remember to let us know what you think.

black deathPhoto credit: ell brown on Flickr

Plaque on Vaughan’s Restaurant, Custom House Quay, Weymouth