The British Library and Google Digitize 250,000 Out-of-Copyright Books

The British Library and Google have announced a partnership to digitise 250,000 out-of-copyright books from the Library’s collections. This opens up access to one of the greatest collections of books in the world and provides access to anyone who wants to do research. Selected by the British Library and digitised by Google, both organisations will work in partnership over the coming years to deliver this content free through Google Books and the British Library’s website. Google will cover all digitisation costs.

This project will digitise a huge range of printed books, pamphlets and periodicals dated 1700 to 1870, the period that saw the French and Industrial Revolutions, The Battle of Trafalgar and the Crimean War, the invention of rail travel and of the telegraph, the beginning of UK income tax, and the end of slavery. It will include material in a variety of major European languages, and will focus on books that are not yet freely available in digital form online.

The first works to be digitised will range from feminist pamphlets about Queen Marie-Antoinette (1791), to the invention of the first combustion engine-driven submarine (1858), and an account of a stuffed Hippopotamus owned by the Prince of Orange (1775).

Once digitised, these unique items will be available for full text search, download and reading through Google Books, as well as being searchable through the Library’s website and stored in perpetuity within the Library’s digital archive.

Researchers, students and other users of the Library will be able to view historical items from anywhere in the world as well as copy, share and manipulate text for non-commercial purposes.

This partnership demonstrates the Library’s further commitment to working with the private sector to digitise parts of its collections. Recently, the Library announced a partnership with brightsolid to digitise up to 40 million pages of its newspaper collections and previously the Library partnered with Microsoft to digitise 65,000 19th century books, some of which are now available as an App on Apple’s iPad.

It is also planned to make the works available via Europeana, the European Digital Library. [source]

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