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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Little of Irish interest in Google-British Library deal

From the flurry of newspaper reports this week about the digitisation of a quarter of a million 18th- and 19th- century books, periodicals, pamphlets etc held by the British Library, I got the impression that a collection of huge interest to Irish and UK historians would soon be available online, via Google Books.

I guess I was thinking in terms of contemporary political and social commentaries, pamphlets encouraging participation or agitation, provincial newspaper reports etc.... the sort of stuff that is crammed with interest for Irish and British family historians wanting to get a better grip of the world in which their ancestors lived.

On further investigation, it seems this Google-British Library initiative is unlikely to release very much of the kind of research material I was hoping for.

Instead the project will concentrate on non-English published material, as Miki Lentin from the British Library's press office explained to Irish Genealogy News:

"The focus of this digitisation initiative is published material in continental European languages, 1700-1870. Published material from Britain and Ireland will be picked up when it appears within a collection, for example, when European and British or Irish pamphlets are bound together into a single volume.

"We are not aware of any special collections of printed books or pamphlets of primarily Irish focus in the parts of the British Library being considered for this project."