The British Library is set to bring its unrivalled collection of 17th and 18th century texts into the digital age through a new partnership with Google.
Google are to digitise 250,000 texts, making them available to be searched and copied for free through either the British Library website of Google Books. Google will foot the bill for the digitising process, with the texts themselves chosen by the British Library.
“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. The way of doing it then was to buy books from the entire world and to make them available in Reading Rooms,” said Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library.
“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.”
Google’s Peter Barron, Director of External Relations, echoed the sentiment: “What’s powerful about the technology available to us today isn’t just its ability to preserve history and culture for posterity, but also its ability to bring it to life in new ways. This public domain material is an important part of the world’s heritage and we’re proud to be working with the British Library to open it up to millions of people in the UK and abroad.”
The British Library have already ventured out into the digital world, launching smartphone and tablet apps, as well as signing Kindle deals and newspaper digitisation plans. Google’s eBook catalogue will get a massive boost from the deal, making their online resource ever more invaluable for researchers when compared to the more traditional libraries offered by Amazon and Apple’s iBooks.