Up to million books are set to be given a new lease of life as part of a digital deal between Italy and Google.
The internet search giant is to scan the books in national libraries in Rome and Florence, in what is being described as the first partnership of its kind.
Italy’s Culture Ministry says the agreement will help save and spread the books’ contents around the world.
Mario Resca, Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage said: “It’s great for us to share our culture free of charge and forever. We’re fufilling our aim.”
The digitisation project will include a number of famous works, all of which are out of copyright.
Google, which is paying for the whole operation, aims to have the entire catalogue translated, transferred and downloadable by 2012.