The British Library has entered into a deal with Google which will see out-of-copyright books from the 18th and 19th centuries digitized and made available online. 250,000 books, including periodicals and pamphlets, will be digitized during this project. These books were published between 1700 and 1870, a pivotal time that included the French Revolution, the invention of the telegraph and rail travel, and the end of slavery. There’s no telling what researchers may be able to find and learn once these materials can be viewed and searched online, worldwide.

The digitized books will be fully searchable and accessible online from Google Books and also from the British Library’s online resources.

Google will bear all costs and the British Library will select the books for this digitization project. The focus will be on books that are not yet freely available online. Researchers, academics and other Library users will be able to download and manipulate these materials for non-commercial purposes.

Peter Barron, Director of External Relations at Google believes that “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.”

Google has entered into similar deals with more than 40 libraries around the world. To date, the company has scanned over 15 million books which are accessible via Google Books. Users can access the full text of books whose copyright has expired, and only a percentage of the text for copyrighted titles.