Austrian national library puts 600,000 books online

The project “Austrian Books Online” is a public-private partnership of the Austrian National Library (ÖNB) and Google. 100,000 books without copyright have been digitalised since 2010.

The books can now be downloaded, read online and searched free of charge with the help of the online catalogue of the ÖNB. Director General Johanna Rachinger called it a “milestone in the democratisation of knowledge and in the history of the ÖNB”.

More than 20 ÖNB employees have been engaged for Austrian Books Online and 50 more have become experts. Around 600,000 works with around 200 million pages will be digitalised in total.

Around 200,000 volumes of the stateroom and more than 100,000 volumes of the Fideikommiss library, the former private library of Habsburg-Lothringen, will be among these digitalised books.

The writers association “IG Autorinnen Autoren” have repeatedly criticised the partnership with Google.

They claim that while authors and publishers fight for the fact that “Google respects their rights, the largest Austrian library stabs them in the back”.

The authors especially criticise the fact that “Google gets all free works delivered by the ÖNB, which the library received free of charge for the authors”.

The presented „Vision 2025″ focuses on digitalisation and best possible democratisation of the access to knowledge. Moreover, an amendment will stop the obligation to collect new books. Instead, the ÖNB will focus on E-Books.