PARIS -- Google, which organizes the world's information digitally, is linking up with a precursor that aimed to do something similar, on paper.
It plans to announce Tuesday that it is forming a partnership with a museum in Mons, Belgium, dedicated to a long-ago venture to compile and index knowledge in a giant, library-style card catalog with millions of entries -- an analog-era equivalent of a search engine or Wikipedia.
"The partnership with Google gives us a great opportunity to spread knowledge of this remarkable Belgian project throughout the world," Jean-Paul Deplus, director of the museum, the Mundaneum, said in remarks prepared for a news conference Tuesday.
The partnership is part of a broader campaign by Google to demonstrate that it is a friend of European culture, at a time when its services are being investigated by regulators on a variety of fronts.
To try to counter these concerns, Google has financed a number of cultural projects, including the digitization of books from the Ghent University Library in Belgium, which is also involved in the Mundaneum partnership.
Google said it would sponsor a traveling exhibit on the Mundaneum, as well as a series of talks on Internet issues, at the museum and the university. The Mundaneum has agreed to use Google's social networking service, Google Plus, as a promotional tool.
Google and the Mundaneum say digitization of the archive's contents is also a possibility, though not immediately.
While the size and power of U.S.-based Internet companies like Google and Facebook make some Europeans nervous, the partnership with the Mundaneum is also an effort to highlight the instrumental role that Europeans have played in the development of the network, as well as the thinking behind it.
Among the confirmed speakers in the planned series are European computer scientists like Louis Pouzin of France and Robert Cailliau of Belgium, whose research helped give birth to the Internet and the World Wide Web, respectively.
Long before them, in 1895, two Belgians, Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine, began the project that grew into the Mundaneum. Their card catalog, initially called the Universal Bibliographic Repertory, compiled links to books, newspaper and magazine articles, pictures and other documents from libraries and archives around the world. People were able to submit queries via the mail or telegraph.
The collection expanded to 16 million cards, and Mr. Otlet and Mr. La Fontaine envisioned a "city of knowledge," complete with museum exhibits and other archival material.
The Belgian government provided space for the Mundaneum for some years in a building in Brussels but cut off funding in 1934. When Nazi Germany invaded Belgium in 1940, the Mundaneum was replaced with an exhibit of Third Reich art, and some material was lost.
Now, what is left of the Mundaneum is housed in a new site in Mons, where the existing museum opened in 1998. This includes the card catalog, as well as sketches by Mr. Otlet in which he describes an imaginary system of "electric telescopes" that would allow users to search and browse through databases like the Mundaneum.
"As we went around the world looking for the roots of the Web, this was a particularly intriguing example, and one that people didn't know about," said William Echikson, a spokesman for Google.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times .