While Google has similar partnerships with about 40 libraries around the world, the company's plans to digitize copyrighted texts has run into serious legal problems in the U.S., BBC News explains. Among the first works to go online from The British Library are a pamphlet about French Queen Marie Antoinette and Spanish inventor Narciso Monturiol's 1858 plans for one of the world's first submarines. Library chief executive Dame Lynne Brindley told BBC that the scheme was an extension of the ambition of the library's predecessors in the 19th century to provide access to knowledge to everyone.
"The way of doing it then was to buy books from the entire world and to make them available in reading rooms," she said. "We... believe that we are building on this proud tradition of giving access to anyone, anywhere and at any time."