Love's labours online

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Love's labours online

James Rogers
A 15th-century Valentines message on the British Library's Web site is part of a major IT project at the UK's national library.

The note, from Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiancé, John Paston, was written in 1477 and is the oldest known Valentine's Day message in the English language. In it she tells him that she has asked her mother to put pressure on her father to increase her dowry - while at the same time telling John that if he loves her, he'll marry her anyway. Evidently, some things never change.

The library, whose collection of more than 150 million items covers every age of civilisation, is working to digitise many of its articles. In 2000 the library also announced a 10-year multi-million pound deal with IBM to develop a digital library store, which forms an integral part of its plan to build a national digital library.

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