Monday, June 27, 2011

The British Library and Google to make 250,000 books available to all

The British Library (BL) recently announced a collaboration with Google to digitize 250,000 books periodicals, and pamphlets from 1700 to 1870. The British Library will select the works while Google will do the actual digitization (as well as pay for the digitization). The digitized books will be freely available through both the BL's and Google's own websites.

From the press release:
. . . . It will include material in a variety of major European languages, and will focus on books that are not yet freely available in digital form online.

The first works to be digitised will range from feminist pamphlets about Queen Marie-Antoinette (1791), to the invention of the first combustion engine-driven submarine (1858), and an account of a stuffed Hippopotamus owned by the Prince of Orange (1775).

Once digitised, these unique items will be available for full text search, download and reading through Google Books, as well as being searchable through the Library’s website and stored in perpetuity within the Library’s digital archive.

Researchers, students and other users of the Library will be able to view historical items from anywhere in the world as well as copy, share and manipulate text for non-commercial purposes. . . .

It is also planned to make the works available via Europeana (, the European Digital Library.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Charles Darwin's Library

Charles Darwin’s Library is a digital edition of the books comprising Darwin's personal library.

From the site's History & Scope section:
. . . . the library of Charles Darwin is more than the collection of the works he owned at his death. As Francis already appreciated in 1908, ‘The chief interest of the Darwin books lies in the pencil notes scribbled on their pages, or written on scraps of paper and pinned to the last page.’2 Darwin did read both systematically and with great intensity. He read to gather evidence, to explore and define the research possibilities of his evolutionary ideas, and to gauge reactions to his own publications. In fact, reading was a major tool in Darwin’s scientific practice. Thus what our digital reconstruction of the Darwin Library delivers is the ability to retrace and reduplicate Darwin’s reading of a wealth of materials.

The portion of the Darwin Library now published at the Biodiversity Heritage Library constitutes Phase 1 of a collaborative project to digitise the Darwin Library works and to provide transcriptions of Darwin’s marginalia side by side with the pages he marked. Phase 1 presents images and marginalia for 330 books, represents 22% of the total 1480 Darwin Library book titles. But, more significantly, these 330 titles represent 44% of the 743 Darwin books that bear his annotations or marks. The latter comprise 28951 annotated and marked book pages and 1624 attached note slips. Plans for further phases to complete digital publication of the remainder of the Darwin Library are now under consideration.
Also useful to the student of Darwin is another open access site: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Digital Public Library of America

The Berkman Center has an informative wiki explaining and tracking the project they are spearheading to create a Digital Public Library of America.
This is a very exciting and ambitious project -- well worth following and participating in.

The Berkman Center will convene a large and diverse group of stakeholders to define the scope, architecture, costs, and administration for a proposed Digital Public Library of America. This initiative was launched in December 2010 with generous support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation....

In March, 2011, the Steering Committee drafted a Concept Note to describe the initiative, on which they seek comment.