The British Library Bringing knowledge to life: The British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2007/08

More stories about Advancing

We advance access to the intellectual and cultural heritage of the UK, through innovative technologies and by collaborating with public and commercial partners.

Hidden Treasures Brought to Life

Our competition to uncover the most spectacular treasures from public libraries generated 82 entries from across the UK. Five winners were announced at an awards ceremony held at St Pancras in September, and work began to convert the items into Turning the Pages 2.0 virtual texts – generously funded by Microsoft.

The winning items – which ranged from a lavishly illustrated missal to a wartime yearbook of the Women’s Institute – were launched online at the end of January. A series of events followed to showcase the virtual texts at the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and Stormont.

By highlighting the treasures held in public libraries, underlining the potential of digital technologies to improve access and encouraging librarians to apply for digitisation funding the competition promises to leave a lasting legacy.

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Mass digitisation gathers pace

Following a successful pilot of the scanning process, our partnership with Microsoft to digitise thousands of out-ofcopyright books progressed to full production by November 2007. The project draws on our 19th century collections, including a range of authors such as Dickens, Eliot, Trollope and Hardy as well as many forgotten literary gems.

In the months that followed we increased scanning rates to a peak of 75,000 pages per day and by the end of 2007/08 we had digitised some 40,000 items, equating to more than nine and a half million pages.

Although Microsoft is to cease its wider book digitisation programme, a further 40,000 out-of-copyright books will be scanned through 2008, as agreed in our contract with Microsoft – and the Library continues to work with a range of partners on some 15 ongoing digitisation projects.

Back to main story | Media coverage of the project

Scan station

Historic newspapers online

The 19th century British Newspapers website, launched in October, now makes over two million searchable pages of historic newspapers available online to the UK’s Higher and Further Education communities. It will be made available to the general public in autumn 2008.

Funded by JISC (the Joint Information Systems Committee) and developed by Gale/Cengage Learning, the website allows users to search material previously only accessible through our Reading Rooms. Students and academics can explore and repurpose newspapers reports drawn from 46 national and regional titles, covering events that range from the Battle of Trafalgar to the Whitechapel murders.

Back to main story | More about 19th century British newspapers

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