British Library and Google to digitise 250k books Web giant set to digitise 40m pages

21 June 2011

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The British Library and Google have teamed up to make 250,000 out-of-copyright books available to the public for free.

Covering the period from 1700-1870, 40 million pages from the Library’s collection will be digitised by Google. The web giant has agreed to cover all the digitisation costs.

Once digitised, readers will be able to download the books from Google Books and do full text searches throughout the text. They will also be able to search for the books from the British Library website. The digitised books will be stored in perpetuity in the Library’s digital archive.

Take a look at our free Which? guide to discover where you can download free ebooks.

This is not the first time the British Library has agreed to work with the private sector to digitise parts of its collection. It recently announced that it was working with Brightsolid to digitise up to 40 million pages of its newspaper collections. 

It had previously partnered with Microsoft to digitise 65,000 19th century books, some of which are now available as an app on Apple’s iPad.

Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said: ‘In the 19th 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. The way of doing it then was to buy books from the entire world 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. 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.’

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