Earlier today, the British Library announced a partnership with Google that will allow the company access to digitize over 250,000 items from the library collection ranging from the years 1700-1870. According to The Wall Street Journal, the British Library joins over 40 libraries worldwide in offering Google the chance to digitize their collections and then make them freely available online.
As expected, the collection will only be allowed to contain books that are out of copyright under European law and is likely to take Google around three years to get fully online. The deal will not only allow Google to publish books, it will also let them digitize pamphlets and periodicals from around Europe during the same time frame.
The article goes on to say that back in 2009, the British Library pulled out of negotiations with Google, saying “Ultimately the ownership should be fully taken back into the British Library so that we can then offer it via our website to the British taxpayer for free. We could not at the time achieve that with Google.” The library seems to have had a change of heart this year though, saying, “This is a fixed contract that gives us huge freedom.” Details on the length of the deal or cost to Google have not been released.
The library will carefully package up the books and send them over to Google’s scanning operation, which is currently in a secret location that the company will not reveal. Google is even going so far as to not let anyone know the name of the country so that the materials will remain safe.