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Google and British Library digitisation project

27 June 2011

The British Library and Google have just announced a partnership to digitise 250,000 out-of-copyright books from the Library's collections. Opening up access to one of the greatest collections of books in the world, this demonstrates the Library's commitment to increase access to anyone who wants to do research.

The books will be selected by the British Library and digitised by Google, which will cover all digitisation costs. Both organisations will work in partnership over the coming years to deliver this content free through Google Books and the British Library's website.

This major project will encompass up to 40 million pages from 1700 to 1870, from the French Revolution to the end of slavery. It will include the Battle of Trafalgar and the Crimean War, the invention of rail travel and of the telegraph 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 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. Users of the Library will be able to view these historical items from anywhere in the world as well as to copy, share and manipulate text for non-commercial purposes.

Professor Colin Jones, President of the Royal Historical Society and Professor of History at Queen Mary, University of London commented: "There is no doubt that the digitisation of this unique material will greatly benefit the research process. Academics are increasingly using new technologies at their disposal to search for innovative ways of investigating historical material to enable us to probe new questions and find alternative patterns of investigation. Digitisation gives us the freedom to not only do this quickly and remotely, but also enhances the quality and depth of the original."

After all the negative things we've said about the Google Project, it's good to be able to report on other activities relating to other Google which seem to be a completely good thing.

Google Boooks

The British Library's website