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UNESCO and Partners Launch World Digital Library
UNESCO (www.unesco.org) and 32 partner institutions have launched the World Digital Library (WDL; www.wdl.org), a website that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world. The site includes manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints, and photographs. It provides unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material.
The launch took place at UNESCO headquarters at an event co-hosted by UNESCO director-general Koïchiro Matsuura and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. Directors of the partner institutions were on hand to present the project to ambassadors, ministers, delegates, and special guests attending the semi-annual meeting of UNESCO's executive board.
Billington first proposed the creation of a World Digital Library to UNESCO in 2005. In addition to promoting international understanding, the project aims to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the internet; provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences; and narrow the digital divide within and between countries by building capacity in partner countries. (We first covered the WDL in a NewsBreak in November 2005, when Google made a $3 million contribution to the Library of Congress: http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbReader.asp?ArticleId=16060.)
The World Digital Library functions in seven languages-Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish-and includes content in more than 40 languages. Browse and search features facilitate cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration on the site. Descriptions of each item and videos, with expert curators speaking about selected items, provide context for users and are intended to spark curiosity and encourage both students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.
The World Digital Library was developed by a team at the Library of Congress. Technical assistance was provided by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt. Institutions contributing to the WDL include national libraries and cultural and educational institutions in Brazil, Egypt, China, France, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda, the U.K., and the U.S.
Source: Library of Congress
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