Google to put newspaper archives online

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Google has taken another step towards its stated goal of indexing the world’s information by scanning newspaper archives and making them searchable on the internet.

The company that leads the way in cataloguing online information has been stepping up efforts to digitise material created before the advent of the internet. Google Books has been gradually scanning millions of books from publishers and libraries, making the text as easily searchable as that of a website.

The newspaper-scanning project announced today will begin with a handful of North American newspapers, including the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph, considered to be the continent’s oldest newspaper.

Large newspapers including The Times and The New York Times have already digitised their archives and opened them to readers, but smaller publications do not have the resources to embark on the labour-intensive process of scanning thousands of editions.

Google’s intention is that billions of articles from the past 250 years will eventually be brought online.

“We’ll be bringing online generations of writers,” Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of search products told the TechCrunch 50 conference in San Francisco. “We’re adding newspapers to the broader sweep of offline material we’re bringing online.”

Google will pay for the cost of scanning the archives of any newspaper publisher willing to allow the stories to be shown free on Google's website. Participating publishers will receive an unspecified portion of the revenue generated from advertising displayed next to the stories.

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