September 3, 2014

Czech National Library digitizes its collections with Google

Internet giant has been scanning the vast collection of books since 2008

Prague, Sept. 3 (ČTK) — Google will digitize about 140,000 volumes for the Czech National Library (NK), and its manuscripts and old prints will be available for free in the Google Books project and the Manuscriptorium European Digital Library on the basis of the 2010 agreement, NK’s Adolf Knoll said today.

As of today, Google has digitized more than 30,000 books from the NK’s collections, Knoll, director in charge of science, research and international relations, told reporters.

The European Commission (EC) said about 10 years ago the digitization of cultural heritage did not continue as quickly as it should. This is why it proposed that the European Digital Library be created, Knoll said.

They called on EU member states to build up digitization equipment and digitize their cultural heritage systematically to make it available to the maximum extent.

The EC announced its intention, among others, under the pressure of American Internet browsers planning a broad digitization of the Anglo-Saxon literature for commercial use.

The Manuscriptorium project was under way in the NK at the time. Knoll is its author, and he was awarded for it in the Czech Republic.

Thanks to the project, the NK received a UNESCO prize for the digitization of old prints. However, the project depends on state funding.

Knoll told the Czech News Agency today about 4,000 manuscripts and old prints had been digitized. The NK has some 14,000 manuscripts, more than 4,200 incunables and 200,000 volumes of old prints.

Books from its Slavic Library, mainly 19th-century literature, are also being digitized as aprt of the Google project.

NK General Director Tomáš Böhm said cooperation with Google was the only public-private partnership (PPP) in the culture sector.

The library sent its profile of old prints to Google in 2008, and the company decided which of them would be digitized. It selected only the books that are not subject to copyright law.

The books must be fitted with bar codes before being transported abroad, valued over insurance and restored.

The NK and Google share the project costs, but Google covers 80 percent of them, including digitization and insurance.

The NK annually spends about 4 million Kč of the Culture Ministry’s subsidy on the project.

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