google_libri_digitaliazzatiGoogle  will scan up to 1 million old books in national libraries in Rome and Florence, including works by astronomer Galileo Galilei, in what's being described as the first deal of its kind.Officials from Google and the Italian culture ministry said it was the first time Google Books and a culture ministry have had such a partnership.

Culture Ministry official Mario Resca says the deal will help save the books' content forever and noted that the 1966 Florence flood ruined thousands of books in the Tuscan city's library.

He said digitizing books from before 1868 will help spread Italian culture throughout the world.

Google will cover the costs of the scanning of the books, all of them out-of-copyright Italian works, including 19th-century literature and 18th-century scientific volumes.

The Italian libraries already had embarked on their own project to put their collections online, and so far digital catalogues of some 285,000 book titles and other information have been created.