Belgium: the libraries of the KU Leuven, the KBR (Royal Library of Belgium) and Google put thousands of books and historical documents online

Image source: KBR

KU Leuven Libraries, KBR (Royal Library of Belgium) and Google have signed agreements to share a large part of the important digitized documents reflecting the rich cultural and historical heritage located in the libraries. These are several thousand works, some of which date back to the 15th century, which will be made freely accessible in the years to come via Google Books and the catalogs of the libraries specific to the institutions. The highlights are the printed works of the professors of the University of Leuven published before the suppression of the Old University in 1797, several thousand works from the world’s largest collection of printed books in Brussels (15th-18th century) and unique pieces recognized as the first work of Western literature devoted exclusively to the biographies of women.


The selected books have been previously scanned in libraries and the digital versions will be sent to Google’s data centers to be further enriched with data allowing the text to be searchable and machine-readable. Once this process is complete, Google will make the digital copies available on Google Books. “The libraries of KU Leuven and KBR will also keep a copy of the enriched data which will be integrated into their own catalogue. The books that are part of this project are no longer subject to copyright,” explains Stefano Reccia, Partner Manager at Google for the digitization project.


Among the selected documents are:

  • Printed works by professors of the Old University of Louvain (1425-1797), digitized as part of the Lovaniensia project.
  • Corble Collection: collection of the British fencer Archibald Corble (1883-1944), one of the most important collections in the world on the history of fencing.
  • A unique collection of 25,000 books printed in Brussels in the 17th and 18th centuries: the largest collection of old and rare books in the capital of the (South) Netherlands, with a strong predominance of government publications in French, Dutch, Spanish and latin.
  • The most complete collection in the world of pamphlets and tracts from the time of the Brabant revolution which led to the independent United States of Belgium (1789-1790), comprising nearly 7,000 pieces.

To learn More, Read full announcement

See also: Announcement of the Royal Library of Belgium