News24

Google to scan special books

2010-06-16 08:20

Vienna - Austria's national library said on Tuesday it had struck a €30m deal with US internet giant Google to digitise 400 000 copyright-free books, a vast collection spanning 400 years of European history.

The head of the ONB library, Johanna Rachinger, hailed what she called an "important step," saying at a news conference that "there are few projects on such a scale elsewhere in Europe."

The Austrian library project concerns one of the world's five biggest collections of 16th- to 19th century literature, totalling about 120 million pages, the ONB said in a statement.

Under the deal, Google will cover the costs of digitising the collection - set at around €50 to €100 per book - a sum the library says it was unable to raise without external funding.

The ONB will pay to prepare the books for scanning, store the book data, and provide public access to it.

Scanning work is to begin in Bavaria in southern Germany in 2011 and is expected to last about six years.

Google has been scanning millions of books to create a digital library and electronic bookstore but the project has been dogged by controversy because of copyright, anti-trust and privacy issues.

Google has so far digitised about 12 million books, drawn from more than 40 libraries including those of Stanford and Harvard universities, with a similar deal struck with Rome and Florence universities in Italy in March.