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  HOME | Arts & Entertainment

Spain’s National Library to Sign Google Books Deal

By Ana Mendoza

MADRID – Spain’s National Library will sign an accord with Google so that the virtual volumes in the Hispanic Digital Library, or BDH, can be looked up on Google Books, though only a part of each book will be available to be seen, library director Milagros del Corral said Tuesday.

“Whoever wants to see the rest can do so for free on the library Web site,” Del Corral told reporters after appearing before the Culture Committee of the lower house of Parliament.

The library director said that the institution aspires to the same degree of legal autonomy that the Prado Museum has, though it is not currently one of the goals included in the 2009-2011 Strategy Plan.

“Museums charge an entrance fee, but in the National Library everything is free. We can’t guarantee the percentage of cofinancing that will be needed to have that kind of status. First we’ll have to develop new services with value added,” Del Corral said.

Among such services, the institution now offers “printing on demand, a first in Europe,” in association with Bubok, to which Amazon will soon be associated, thus making it easier to satisfy the demand from abroad for printed books.

The Hispanic Digital Library was launched in January 2008 and now has 18,000 works, and has reached an accord with the telephone company Telefonica for the massive digitization of its book collection over five years with an investment of 10 million euros (almost $14 million).

By the year 2012 the BDH will have 600,000 works online, Del Corral said, calling attention to the importance of its Theater of the Golden Age portal, launched in collaboration with the Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library.

Proof of the interest aroused by the BDH are the 36,000 users in 98 countries it had in May of this year, the director said.

The presence of the National Library on the Web has also been reinforced with a space on Facebook and in “the best videos” on YouTube.

Something Del Corral found lacking when she was named director of the library in September 2007 was that 12,000 manuscripts had never been catalogued, for which an agreement has been signed with the Autonomous University of Madrid that will speed up the process.

Another thing now made possible is access to the institution’s Web page in all of Spain’s coofficial languages.

With regard to the engravings, some of great value, whose robbery was made public in August 2007, Del Corral said that 14 of the original 16 that disappeared have now been recovered.

The other two “were of little value” and were probably torn up “by mistake” by the Spanish citizen of Uruguayan origin, Cesar Gomez, who confessed to the theft.

“We’re convinced they were destroyed, because otherwise they would have appeared along with the others,” Del Corral said. EFE

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