Rare books to be just a click away


IT giant Microsoft and the British Library have come together to digitise 25 million pages of content from the library’s collections in 2006.

The two will work together to digitise around 100,000 out-of-copyright books and deliver search results for this content through the new MSN Book Search service. This will help people find precisely what they’re looking for on the web. MSN Search will launch an initial public beta offering next year.

According to a library press release, Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said: “This partnership helps us fulfil our vision of promoting ready access to our collection for everyone who wants to use it. This is great news for research and sch-olarship, will give unparalleled access to our vast collections to people all over the world: items digitised will be available to anyone, anywhere, any time.”

The release quoted Bill Gates, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft as saying: “Our partnership with the British Library is not only about digitisation and preservation, but also about delivering a great experience for people accessing this amazing collection through British Library and MSN Web sites.”

Microsoft is already working with the British Library to help build the digital infrastructure for the National Digital Library providing software tools.

The National Digital Library is a cornerstone of the British Library strategy lau-nched in June this year (www.bl.uk/about/strategy.html). The Digital Object Management system will enable long-term storage, preservation and access to digital items such as e-journals, e-books and CD-ROMs acquired by the library through legal deposit.