Dante's Divine Comedy and Galileo Galilei's renowned writings, in addition to many other rare, centuries-old texts, will soon be available online through a landmark deal between Google and the Italian ministry of culture.
It is the first accord between Google and a state government. Part of Italy's national heritage, over one million ancient books from the state libraries in Rome and Florence, will be scanned and soon be available online for free, for the entire world to consult.
Head of Italy's museums, Mario Resca, said the deal would help save the books' content forever and noted that the 1966 Florence flood ruined thousands of unique and rare books in the city's national library. He also believes that digitizing books from before 1868 will help promote and better preserve Italian culture throughout the world.
According to the deal, Google will cover the costs of scanning the books, all of which are centuries old and thus out of copyright. The national libraries in Rome and Florence will then put the digitalized collections online. These libraries already have online public access catalogues with some 285,000 book titles.