British Library Signs Google Book Deal

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. 

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  • wild9
    4 comments and all of them spam..jeeze these guys are a pain in the butt.

    Anyway, back on track. Interesting story, Jane.

    Imagine having having to scan that lot in, and proof-read it. And how times have changed..when I was doing further education I vividly remember having to find, absorb and remember masses of engineering data. Practically the only electronic reference was a 'book-finder' kiosk, and that was at a central library downtown. This wasn't that long ago, either.

    Do you think this is a good or bad thing in general? I've got mixed feelings. I still like reading books rather than screens - I'd go so far as to say I get sick of the latter, and consider it a more passive affair. I dunno, maybe it's upbringing or just a resentment for living in an increasingly electronic world, one where you don't have to think for yourself so much. Some of these old libraries also have a historical and architectural significance..what becomes of those buildings when fewer people use them? I think that a good library will always have an ambiance that no e-book can ever match, regardless of the ease of which one is able to access the electronic format.

    I bet there will be places in the world where the not everyone will be able to access this material, be it by virtue of not just technical issues but also political, and social. Google just gets bigger and bigger..and the storage just keep growing and growing..does it make us more creative as readers, writers and dreamers?