The British Library and Google this week revealed plans to digitize 40 million pages dating from 1700 to 1870. The plans to make 250,000 out-of-copyright books available to search and view online will mean the entire world will have access to a portion of the British Library’s extensive collection of old texts. Users will be able to copy, read and search through the books via Google Books or the British Library’s website.
"In the nineteenth century it was an ambition of our predecessors to give everybody access to as much of the world’s information as possible, to ensure that knowledge was not restricted to those who could afford private libraries," said Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library. "The way of doing it then was to buy books from the entire world and to make them available in Reading Rooms.
"We are delighted to be partnering with Google on this project and through this partnership believe that we are building on this proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time," she continued.
"Our aim is to provide perpetual access to this historical material, and we hope that our collections coupled with Google’s know-how will enable us to achieve this aim."
The news follows the release of the British Library’s iPad app that allows users access hundreds of classic books, such as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Oliver Twist, for free. The pages of thousands of books have been scanned to allow users the experience of reading the original editions of classic texts.