World Digital Library Site Is in Proto Stage

An ambitious plan for a World Digital Library seeks to achieve some of the furthest-reaching hopes that have been expressed for the Internet.

The Web site project will digitize materials from libraries and other institutions and make them available for free online, hopefully in late 2008 or early 2009.

Organizers expect rare or unique materials that include manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photos.

“The objectives of the World Digital Library include promoting international and intercultural understanding, increasing the quantity and diversity of cultural materials on the Internet, and contributing to education and scholarship,” stated the Library of Congress.

Librarian James H. Billington is one of the movers of the project. He and UNESCO official Abdul Waheed Khan signed an agreement in Paris this week pledging cooperation.

“A key aspect of the project is to build digital library capabilities in the developing world, so that all countries and regions of the world can participate and be represented in the World Digital Library,” the officials stated.

A prototype is being demo’d at the UNESCO General Conference. Participants include the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt; the National Library of Brazil; the National Library of Egypt; the National Library of Russia; and the Russian State Library.

The prototype is operating in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese.

(Radio World)