Royal Library makes thousands of historic books accessible to general public

Royal Library makes thousands of historic books accessible to general public
KU Leuven library. Credit: Visit Flanders

The KU Leuven Libraries, the Royal Library of Belgium and Google are going to make important digitised historical documents accessible to the general public after signing an agreement, KU Leuven announced on Thursday.

KU Leuven and the Royal Library both want to work towards a more accessible service in the field of historical documents, Belga News Agency reports.

“Putting more information online, improving access to that information and facilitating research are our current priorities,” said Sara Lammens, general director ad interim at the Royal Library.

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In total, more than 80,000 digitised works have been selected. In the coming years, they will be made freely available to everyone via both Google Books and the library catalogues of the institutions themselves. The collaboration will start in the course of this year.

Multi-phase process

During the first phase, 25,000 books from the Royal Library of Belgium will be made available, said KBB spokesperson Hanna Huyzegom. These will also be made searchable before they are put on Google Books.

The documents include works by professors of the Old University of Leuven (1425-1797). The collection also includes pamphlets and brochures from the time of the Brabant Revolution, amounting to almost 7,000 items.

It is not the first time that Google Books has included documents from a Flemish university in its collection. Earlier, an agreement was also signed with the Ghent University Library.


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