(Vocus) April 7, 2009
The Library of Congress, UNESCO and 32 partner institutions on April 21 will launch the World Digital Library, a website that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world.
The site will include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, and prints and photographs – available unrestricted to the public and free of charge. The browseable, searchable site will function in seven languages and offer content in dozens of languages.
The launch will take place at a reception at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington. Directors of numerous partner institutions will also be on hand to present the project to ambassadors, ministers, delegates, and special guests attending the semi-annual meeting of UNESCO’s executive board.
Dr. Billington first proposed the creation of a World Digital Library (WDL) to UNESCO in 2005, remarking that such a project could “have the salutary effect of bringing people together by celebrating the depth and uniqueness of different cultures in a single global undertaking.” 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.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich international resources will be available through the World Digital Library. Other resources can be found at the Library’s main website, http://www.loc.gov and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at myLOC.gov.