British Library, Google to Digitize 250,000 Books

Posted by at 10:17 am on June 20, 2011

The British Library and Google have announced a partnership to make 250,000 books available in fully searchable digital form. The public domain works include books, pamphlets and periodicals from the library’s collection and were were originally published between 1700 and 1870. The project will focus on material not freely available in digital form, and include works in several major European languages. The first works to be digitized will include feminist pamphlets about Queen Marie-Antoinette written in 1791, the invention of the first combustion engine-driven submarine from 1858, and an account published in 1775 of a stuffed Hippopotamus owned by the Prince of Orange.

Library users will be able to view historical items from anywhere in the world and use the materials freely for non-commercial purposes. The digitized text will be available for full text search, download and reading through Google Books’ British site. The texts will be searchable through library’s website and will be stored in perpetuity within the Library’s digital archive. The library also plans to make the digitized books available through Europeana, the European Digital Library.

Google will handle the digitization and all associated costs.

Google has worked with more than 40 libraries around the world on similar projects. The Library has partnered with Microsoft to digitise 65,000 19th century books, some of which are now available as mobile app on Apple’s iPad. The app also allows access to digital versions of other items in the British Library’s collection, including a 1215 copy of the Magna Carta, and to exhibitions currently running at the Library. The app is limited to the UK App Store. The Library also recently announced a partnership with Brightsolid to digitize up to 40 million pages of its newspaper collections.

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