Over 500,000 volumes of out of copyright books, music and pamphlets printed from the 16th to the 19th century.
About the collection
In partnership with Google, the British Library has digitised, and made available over 500,000 volumes of out of copyright books, music and pamphlets printed between 1501 and 1877.
They cover an enormous range of subjects and languages, from early travel writing and exploration to literature in languages from Basque to Welsh, to printed music, to the invention of mechanical engines and guides to the language of flowers.
In addition to the usefulness of the texts themselves, crucial aspects, evidence and details of book history can be examined online such as annotations; marks of past ownership (inscriptions, bookplates, stamps); bindings; the uses of illustrations and diagrams; and details of historical printing practices and typography.
What is available online?
This collection is available via the British Library’s catalogue ‘Explore the British Library’ and via the Google Books website.
- All volumes are available for individual view and download, for personal study or education-related non-commercial purposes, from the British Library Catalogue via the Library’s IIIF standard enabled Universal Viewer. Use the search term “blgooglebooks” to limit results to this specific collection
- All volumes are also available for view and download via the Google Books website
- You can view the pages in single or double pages, or in a gallery view
- You can survey the surrounding pages quickly as thumbnails on the left side of the screen
- Zoom in and out of a page to closely inspect details
- Download or print whole pages, selected parts of pages or entire texts
- See basic bibliographic information about the item on the right side on the screen, such as title, author, place and date of publication and its unique collection shelfmark
- You can easily click 'Feedback' to tell us about finding or discovering the item; viewing the item; or tell us something about the item or content itself
- Use the 'Feedback' button also to send a comment, compliment, complaint or correction about an item