In an effort to preserve some of the world's literary history, Google has partnered with the City of Antwerp to digitize over 100,000 books that were originally published from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries. The books are coming from a couple of sources - the Plantin-Moretus Museum and the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library.
The Plantin-Moretus Museum is named after Christophe Plantin, who ran one of the biggest publishing businesses in the sixteenth century. The museum will contribute over 32,000 books. Additionally, the Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library will contribute upwards of 60,000 works, adding up to a total of over 100,000 books being digitized. All of these titles are now royalty-free, and once they've been digitized, they'll be free to access for anyone through Google Books as well as the library of each institution.
The books will start to be digitized in 2021, and they'll be available gradually over the forthcoming years. Google says it expects the entire process to take three years, partly in order to avoid disrupting access to the books in the meantime. Once the books have been digitized, they'll not only be available digitally, but all the text within will be searchable.
It will be a while before these works can be accessed easily, but it's always good to see companies working to preserve history in one way or another.