Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 12:19 UK

Library's 20m digitisation plan

The National Library of Wales
The National Library of Wales website gets almost 2m visitors a year

A 20m project has begun to digitise the National Library of Wales so that much of it is available online.

The lengthy project eventually aims to make as many of the National Library of Wales' books, art works, and documents as possible viewable on the internet.

Sound files, photographs and newspapers at the library in Aberystwyth will also be scanned in.

About 200,000 items are already online, including the Black Book of Carmarthen, the oldest surviving Welsh book.

The material will be available for a wide range of purposes, whether as an aid to the education sector at all levels or as a point of reference for someone who wants to know more about their family history.

The job of digitising the library's collection started 10 years ago, but the 20m scheme will take the project to the next level.

Eight people are currently dedicated to scanning in the library's 6m books, journals and newspapers.

It is the equivalent of putting a gigantic library in every home, school or college
Andrew Green, librarian

Two-hundred thousand hours of sound archives, 250,000 hours of video and 800,000 photographs are among other items in the library's collection that will be put online.

Librarian Andrew Green said: "We have about 100,000 visitors a year here but we have about one million, nearly two million visitors each year on average coming to us on the website.

"That is the future if we want to make a big impact.

"It is the equivalent of putting a gigantic library in every home, school or college."

Mr Green said each word would also be individually searchable throughout the collection, meaning that research which could take months will eventually take just seconds.

Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said the plans would ensure that resources produced electronically would take their place alongside books, manuscripts and photographs in the library's collections.

"It also builds on what has already been achieved to open up the vast and fascinating resources of this great national institution to new audiences both at home and abroad, free of charge via the internet," he said.

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