British Library hands 200 years of history to Google
40 million pages
The British Library is handing 250,000 books to Google for scanning into the Google Books project.
The Library had previously partnered with Microsoft which digitised books from the 19th century and Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks. The Library only owned one of the notebooks - the second was from Bill Gates' own collection.
The Google slurp will see 40 million pages scanned and made available on Google's site and through the British Library. All the works are out of copyright - Google's scanning of in-copyright books has caused trouble in the past. The search giant pays the cost of scanning.
Material includes books, pamphlets and magazines from 1700 to 1870 in several European languages.
The scanned books will also be available through the Europeana site, funded by the European Commission.
Dame Lynne Brindley, chief executive of BL, said: “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.
"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,"
Alongside the Google deal, the library is continuing work with Brightsolid, a subsidiary of DC Thomson, to digitise its newspaper collection. That deal was heavily criticised for effectively handing Brightsolid a monopoly.
We've asked the British Library what the financial implications of the deal are and why it dropped Microsoft, and we'll update the story should we hear back.
A spokesman for the British Library said the deal with Microsoft was simply different and there was no question of scale problems with its technology. He said the material scanned by Google would be free for users to access but Google was free to advertise alongside the content.
Regardless of who gets the job of scanning in those documents, I'm pleased to hear that the British Library is taking steps to convert their libraries into digital files. Hopefully there will be something of use to researchers who were otherwise unable to locate specific texts or travel to the library to do so.
I have documents on my computer that I can't read. They were created in an early version of some Apple word processonf 22 years ago. They are intact, but unreadable in any modern programme I have available.
I have tapes (35 years old), on 6250 BPI reels, that I cant read now. Bye Bye University final year project.
My DAT tapes may well survive the century the company claims. Doubt the DAT reader will (I have been through three in 10 years), and they are now becoming like hens teeth for the tapes I have. Yes, its fine to upgrade, but what about the tapes I have in the safe stpre?
As the BL shows, documents last several 100 years and are still readable. Stone tablets even longer. Now thats technology built to last.
Mine's the one with the stolen Rosetta Stone in the pocket, yes the heavy one.
Paper is no good
Yeah, yeah, I've heard all the guff about this new-fangled paper-and-ink stuff, but I ask you: Who's going to trust that? If you really want your magnum opus to survive down the millennia, you'll do what serious professional writers have done for centuries: carve runes into stone. Runes don't fade and discolour, the way that ink does, and a well-manufactured stone tablet will survive even a conflagration. Backups are barely necessary, but if you want to be sure, a few dozen slave scribes will be able to make a complete copy of all your data in only a few short years. Why anybody wastes their time on these nonsensical modern fads is beyond me.