Tuesday, April 21, 2009

World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) was launched on April 21, 2009 at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, France. The new website features a collection of primary materials from numerous libraries and archives around the world. The materials featured on the site include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs. The site is free to the public and functions in seven languages.

Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, proposed the creation of the digital library to UNESCO in 2005. The stated objectives of the WDL are to promote international understanding, 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.

Examples of treasures featured include Arabic scientific manuscripts from the National Library and Archives of Egypt; early photographs of Latin America from the National Library of Brazil; the Hyakumanto darani, a publication from the year 764 from the National Diet Library of Japan; the famous 18th century "Devil's Bible" from the National library of Sweden; and works of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish calligraphy from the collection of the United States Library of Congress.

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