LOC, UNESCO move toward world digital library

Librarian of Congress James Billington and UNESCO Assistant Director for Communication and Information Abdul Waheed Khan signed an agreement at UNESCO headquarters in Paris Oct. 17 to cooperate in building a World Digital Library Web site.

The WDL, first proposed in a June 2005 speech by Billington after Google donated $3 million for the effort, will combine digitized versions of materials from around the world and make them available for free on the Web site. The collected materials will include manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photographs.

Under the agreement, the Library of Congress and UNESCO will cooperate in developing guidelines and technical specifications for the project, enlist new partners and secure additional funding for the project.

The two organizations ' in conjunction with 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 ' have already developed a pilot project that is being demonstrated at the UNESCO General Conference currently under way. The current version of the pilot supports seven languages ' Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Portuguese.

The WDL is expected to become available to the public in late 2008 or early 2009.

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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