The British Library 19th Century Book Digitisation Project

The British Library has over 20 years of experience digitising its collections. The mass digitisation of 19th century literature in partnership with Microsoft is one of fifteen British Library-led digitisation initiatives, currently taking place.

As part of the 19th century book project, the British Library has now successfully digitised 40,000 out-of-copyright items from its collections, including a range of authors such as Dickens, Eliot, Trollope and Hardy as well as many forgotten literary gems.

It is our intention that the material will be made available on the Library's catalogue after the completion of a pilot, which is currently providing access to over 1,100 books with more added on an incremental basis from St Pancras Reading Rooms.

Approximately 75,000 pages are being scanned daily by the digitisation studios at the British Library. A further 40,000 out-of-copyright books will be scanned as agreed in the Library's contract with Microsoft.

The British Library continues to work with Microsoft on projects that will support and benefit research. For instance 'Turning the Pages 2.0', enhanced by Windows Vista, offers researchers an opportunity to explore digitised versions of some of the world's greatest texts, combining a rich and life-like interaction with the text itself with a potential for collaborative international research.

Notes to Editors:

  1. For further information about Microsoft's Live Search programme please seehttp://blogs.msdn.com/livesearch/.
  2. Examples of active digitisation projects by the British Library

    19th Century Newspapers Project: Two million pages of digitised 19th century newspapers funded by JISC. For more details please visit.

    Archival Sound Recordings 2: A project to digitise 4,200 hours of sound content

    International Dunhuang Project: A long-running project digitising items excavated from Dunhuang and archaeological sites along the ancient Silk Road.

    UK Theses Digitisation Project: A project to digitise 5,335 theses to populate the EThOS service.
  3. The British Library's digital activity encompasses every aspect of collecting, preserving and providing access to the world's digital heritage, but also includes using digitisation technologies to open up the Library's collections to online users throughout the UK and across the world.
    • Capturing born-digital material - through voluntary deposit and other digital acquisitions and by developing a robust, scaleable storage solution through our Digital Library Programme;
    • Digitising our collections - working with private partners such as Microsoft on the mass digitisation of out-of-copyright books and with funders such as the JISC to digitise 4,000 hours of Archival Sound Recordings and up to 3 million pages of historic newspapers;
    • Digital preservation - a cross-directorate team works to address the complex preservation and access challenges posed by the diverse and ephemeral nature of digital technology; the Library's leadership of the EU-funded PLANETS Project aims to tackle the issue at European level;
    • Supporting research - through partnerships such as UK PubMed Central, a free and permanent online archive of peer-reviewed research papers in the medical and life sciences.

For more information contact:

  • Miki Lentin
  • The British Library
  • t:+44 (0) 20 7412 7112
  • m:+44 (0) 7976 793 666
  • f:+44 (0) 20 7412 7168
  • e: miki.lentin@bl.uk




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