From the Computers in Libraries 2007 conference in Washington, DC
Speaker: John Van Oudenaren, Senior Advisor, World Digital Library Initiative, Library of Congress.
The World Digital Library isn’t available online yet, but if, after reading this post, you’d like to get some idea of what it will be like, I’ve included a couple of links in the article that will take you directly to other Library of Congress sites, that offer a similar experience, although with different content.
The World Digital Library is going to be an online digital Library of significant original materials of all major cultures for educators, students, and the general public It is not a book digitization project (such as Google’s book digitization project).
The Library of Congress is working with a group of international partners & businesses to create the WDL. Primary among these is UNESCO. Initial funding for the project came from Google, although the DWL, is not affiliated in any way with Google’s digitization project.
Mr. Van Oudenaren stressed that WDL is also not just a website, but encompasses three equally important components:
- Content acquisition
- A world-wide network to produce and distribute content
- and the website, www.worldigitallibrary.org (This link currently offers information about the project.)
Key objectives are to:
- promote international and inter-cultural understanding;
- provide a resource for educators and students;
- acquire rare and unique content;
- work with partner countries to digitize content in places were little or no scanning is being done, bringing “hidden treasures” to light;
- help balance of English/non-English content on web;
- present cultural content in a way that appeals to the new generation of Internet users around the world.
Its designers hope the end result will offer a multilingual, high quality user experience that is fast, and seamless, regardless of whether the content you are looking for is in America, Africa or Siberia. Users will be able to search and browse large volume of content in seven languages: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish & Portuguese.
Content will be multi-format and include manuscripts, maps, photos, prints, postcards, rare books, sound and video clips, and 3-D presentations of architecture and monuments. There will also be special features provided by experts, educational content for educators and students, and some social networking features (blogs, chat, tags, etc.). Since this will be a world-wide resource, accommodations will be made for low-bandwidth users from countries where broadband is not widely available.
As I mentioned, the WDL is not available online yet. In fact, the prototype is just now under development. No time-frame was announced for when it will be available for public viewing. I for one, can’t wait.
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