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Readers Able to Enjoy British Library Collection Online
    2008-02-18 15:58:18     CRIENGLISH.com

Online reading has become part of many people's daily lives. To meet the demand of many readers and researchers worldwide, the British Library is now doing a very important job-scanning its book collections. Here is our feature correspondent Michael Lee with the details.


For lovers of literature, London has so much to explore. Blue plaks mark the famous authors lived and worked. In this city of London cemetery called Bunhill Fields, you can see the graves of three influential writers, without so much as turning your head. There is the tomb of John Bunyan who wrote the Pilgrim's Progress off from the distance, while in the fore-ground a tombstone marks the approximate burial site of poet William Blake. A few steps away, there is a monument to Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe.

Still when it comes to appreciating the depth and richness of Britain's literary heritage, there is no place quite like the British Library.

It houses everything from the Magna Carta to Shakespeare's first folio, to handwritten lyrics by the Beetles. And that's just what's on display. The total collection numbers roughly 150 million items, of which 13 million are books. But the library's director of E-strategy and information systems Richard Boulderstone says it's another figure that races one rather obvious problem.

In an effort to broaden the exposure of the books stacked on these shelves, the library has been working on a rather large digitization project with the world's largest software manufacturer, Microsoft.

Nill Fitzgerald is the project manager.

Though this title was originally published in 1719, the focus of the digitization program is on 19th century books. Roughly 100 thousand out of copyright British literary works will be scanned in this way. Readers and researchers will be able to view the books on the library's own site as well as MSN search portal in early 2008.

What's more the text of these books will be fully searchable, thanks to optical character recognition. Creating metadata for the content of the books that date back over a century may sound like two worlds colliding, but Fitzgerald says, it's a simple extension of the library's traditional mission.



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