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 (http://www.europeana.eu/), the European Digital Library.