World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) is an international digital library operated by UNESCO and the United States Library of Congress.

The WDL has stated that its mission is to promote international and intercultural understanding, expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences, and to build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and among countries.[1] It aims to expand non-English and non-western content on the Internet, and contribute to scholarly research. The library intends to make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials.[2][3][4]

The WDL opened with 1,236 items.[5] As of early 2018, it lists more than 18,000 items from nearly 200 countries, dating back to 8,000 BCE.

World Digital Library
World Digital Library Logo 2008-04-24
World Digital Library - Launch
The World Digital Library homepage on launch day, April 21, 2009
Type of site
International education
Available inMultilingual
OwnerUnited States
Created byLibrary of Congress
LaunchedApril 21, 2009
Current statusOnline

History and concept

After almost 20 years without participation, the United States re-established its permanent delegation to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 2003. Dr. James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, was nominated as a commissioner of the U.S. National Commission to UNESCO and was invited to give a plenary speech at its inaugural conference in June 2005. His speech, entitled A View of the Digital World Library, described a vision in which the rich collections that "institutions, libraries, and museums have preserved could be given back to the world free of charge and in a new form far more universally accessible than any forms that have preceded it."

Google Inc. became the first partner of this public–private partnership and donated $3 million to support development of the World Digital Library in 2005.[6]

At the National Commission's 2006 annual conference, Dr. John Van Oudenaren, Senior Advisor for the World Digital Library at the Library of Congress, outlined a project plan for bringing Dr. Billington's vision to fruition. Foremost was the belief that the World Digital Library should engage partners in planning the four main project areas: technical architecture, selection, governance, and funding. This was achieved in December 2006, when 45 national library directors, library technical directors, and cultural and educational representatives from UNESCO met in Paris to discuss the development of the World Digital Library. The participants formed working groups to address the special challenges of each of the four project areas.

The working groups met in the first half of 2007 and included professionals in the field of digital libraries – including computer science, library and information science, Web development, and fundraising. The working groups presented their findings to the larger WDL group in July 2007. Findings from this planning process were presented at the thirty-fourth session of the UNESCO General Conference in October 2007 in Paris, France.

In early September 2008, the Organization of American States (OAS) agreed to join with the Library of Congress in developing the World Digital Library. Secretary General José Miguel Insulza signed the "Contributor Agreement" with Librarian of Congress, Dr. James Billington, at an OAS headquarters ceremony.

The World Digital Library was launched on April 21, 2009 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France.[8][9]


Initial exhibits include


Partners in the World Digital Library project include:[18]

See also


  1. ^ "About the World Digital Library: Mission". World Digital Library. Library of Congress. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  2. ^ "UNESCO and Library of Congress sign agreement for World Digital Library". Paris. 17 October 2007. Archived from the original on 24 January 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  3. ^ "UN puts global treasures online". BBC News. BBC. April 21, 2009. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  4. ^ Flood, Alison (April 8, 2009). "Free-access World Digital Library set to launch". The Guardian. London: Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Cody, Edward (April 21, 2009). "U.N. Launches Library Of World's Knowledge". Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  6. ^ Vise, David A. (November 22, 2005). "World Digital Library Planned". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g "World treasures go on-line in global digital library". Agence France-Presse. April 21, 2009. Archived from the original on 8 December 2010. Retrieved April 21, 2009 – via Google News.
  8. ^ "World Digital Library to launch at UNESCO". Agence France-Presse. April 20, 2009. Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009 – via Google News.
  9. ^ "Library of Congress, UNESCO and Partners to Launch World Digital Library". PRWeb (Press release). Cision. 7 April 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c d e f O'Neil, Peter (April 13, 2009). "Website to exhibit world's greatest historical treasures". Ottawa Citizen. Canwest News Service. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  11. ^ "Yongle Encyclopedia". World Digital Library. Library of Congress. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  12. ^ "The Su Wen of the Huangdi Neijing (Inner Classic of the Yellow Emperor)". World Digital Library. Library of Congress. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  13. ^ a b "UN puts global treasures online". BBC News. April 21, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  14. ^ a b c d "RP book featured in World Digital Library". Philippine Daily Inquirer. April 21, 2009. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  15. ^ a b Joshi, Mohit (April 21, 2009). "UNESCO, Library of Congress launch first World Digital Library". TopNews. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (April 8, 2009). "Free-access World Digital Library set to launch". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 22, 2009.
  17. ^ "World Digital Library launches with Wellcome treasures". Wellcome Trust. April 20, 2009. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  18. ^ "About the World Digital Library: Partners". World Digital Library. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Archived from the original on 21 April 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2009.
  19. ^ "Partners". World Digital Library. 16 April 2009. Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved April 22, 2009.

Further reading

External links


AnimalBase is a project brought to life in 2004 and is maintained by the University of Göttingen, Germany. The goal of the AnimalBase project is to digitize early zoological literature, provide copyright-free open access to zoological works, and provide manually verified lists of names of zoological genera and species as a free resource for the public. AnimalBase contributed to opening up the classical taxonomic literature, which is considered as useful because access to early literature (especially for the late 18th century) can be difficult for researchers who need the old sources for their taxonomic research.AnimalBase data are public domain. The public use of AnimalBase data is not restricted or conditioned.

AnimalBase covers all zoological disciplines. In the field of biodiversity informatics AnimalBase is unique in providing links between the names of generic and specific taxa and their digitized original descriptions, with a special focus on literature and names published prior to 1800.

Biblioteca Riccardiana

The Biblioteca Riccardiana (Riccardian Library) is a library in Florence, Italy. The library is located in the Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

Biodiversity Heritage Library

The Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) is a consortium of natural history and botanical libraries that cooperate to digitize and make accessible the legacy literature of biodiversity held in their collections and to make that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL consortium works with the international taxonomic community, rights holders, and other interested parties to ensure that this biodiversity heritage is made available to a global audience through open access principles. In partnership with the Internet Archive and through local digitization efforts, the BHL has digitized millions of pages of taxonomic literature, representing tens of thousands of titles and more than 100,000 volumes.

Founded in 2005, BHL soon became the third broad digitization project for biodiversity literature, after Gallica and AnimalBase. In 2008, the size of Gallica and AnimalBase was passed, and BHL is now by far the world's largest digitization project for biodiversity literature.It is a cornerstone organization of the Encyclopedia of Life.

Catechism for Filipino Catholics

The Catechism for Filipino Catholics, or CFC, is a contextualized and inculturated Roman Catholic catechism for Filipinos prepared by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and approved by the Holy See. The draft was produced by the CBCP's "Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education."

It is considered the present-day successor of the early 16th century Doctrina Christiana, the first published book in what is now the Philippines. The Doctrina Christiana was written in Tagalog, in both abecedario (the newly developed Latinised orthography) and the indigenous Baybayin script commonly used at the time, as well as Spanish.

Codex Gigas

The Codex Gigas (English: Giant Book) is the largest extant medieval illuminated manuscript in the world, at a length of 92 cm (36 in). It is also known as the Devil's Bible because of a very unusual full-page portrait of the devil, and the legend surrounding its creation.

It was created in the early 13th century in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice in Bohemia, which is a region in the modern-day Czech Republic. It contains the complete Vulgate Bible as well as other popular works, all written in Latin. Between the Old and New Testaments are a selection of other popular medieval reference works: Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews and De bello iudaico, Isidore of Seville's encyclopedia Etymologiae, the chronicle of Cosmas of Prague, and medical works; these are an early version of the Ars medicinae compilation of treatises, and two books by Constantine the African.Eventually finding its way to the imperial library of Rudolf II in Prague, the entire collection was taken as spoils of war by the Swedish in 1648 during the Thirty Years' War, and the manuscript is now preserved at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm, where it is on display for the general public.Very large illuminated bibles were a typical feature of Romanesque monastic book production, but even within this group the page-size of the Codex Gigas is exceptional.

General Directorate of Archives (Albania)

The General Directorate of Archives (Albanian: Drejtoria e Përgjithshme e Arkivave) is the national archive of the Republic of Albania, located in Tirana. Under the former control of the Party of Labour of Albania, the archives houses the papers of the former People's Socialist Republic of Albania, and papers that were held by citizens prior to the regime. Completely modernized to archival standards as of 2004, with help from the Swiss Federal Archives, the archives also houses the Codex Beratinus and the Codex Beratinus II.

Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) is a center for advanced scholarly research and graduate education at New York University. ISAW's mission is to cultivate comparative, connective investigations of the ancient world from the western Mediterranean to China. Areas of specialty among ISAW's faculty include the Greco-Roman world, the Ancient Near East, Egypt, Central Asia and the Silk Road, East Asian art and archaeology, Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages, ancient science, and digital humanities.ISAW was founded in 2006 with funding from the Leon Levy Foundation, established to continue the philanthropic legacy of Leon Levy, co-founder of the Oppenheimer mutual funds. Long interested in ancient history, Levy in his final years, along with his wife Shelby White, began discussions about the creation of a path-breaking institute where advanced scholars would explore trade and cultural links among ancient civilizations. After Levy’s death in 2003, one of the earliest initiatives of the Leon Levy Foundation, was the fulfillment of that plan. ISAW is a discrete entity within New York University, independent of any other school or department of the university, with its own endowment and its own board of trustees, and is housed in separate facilities in a historic six-story limestone on East 84th Street in Manhattan.

Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

The Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH, National Institute of Anthropology and History) is a Mexican federal government bureau established in 1939 to guarantee the research, preservation, protection, and promotion of the prehistoric, archaeological, anthropological, historical, and paleontological heritage of Mexico. Its creation has played a key role in preserving the Mexican cultural heritage. Its current national headquarters are housed in the Palace of the Marqués del Apartado.

INAH and the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes y Literatura are tasked with cataloging and protecting monuments and buildings regarded as cultural patrimony. INAH is entrusted with 'archaeological' (pre-Hispanic and paleontological) and 'historical' (post-Conquest 16th to 19th centuries) structures, zones and remnants, while INBAL is entrusted with 'artistic' buildings and monuments (properties that are of significant aesthetic value as deemed by a commission). Worthy edifices are catalogued in the Registro Público de Monumentos y Zonas Arqueológicos e Históricos (Public Register of Archeological and Historic Monuments and Zones).Currently, the INAH carries out its work through a Technical Secretariat which supervises the performance of its main duties and whose tasks are distributed among its seven National Coordination Offices and 31 Regional Centers throughout the states of the Mexico.

This bureau is responsible for the over 110,000 historical monuments, built between the 16th and 19th centuries, and for 29,000 of Mexico's estimated 200,000 pre-Columbian archeological zones found throughout the country. One hundred and fifty of the archeological sites are open to the public.

The INAH also supervises over a hundred museums. These are found across the country and are categorized according to the extension and quality of their collections, geographical locations, and number of visitors. Over 500 Teotihuacan murals are in storage at the INAH.

Miroslav Gospel

Miroslav's Gospel (Serbian: Мирослављево Јеванђеље / Miroslavljevo Jevanđelje, pronounced [mǐrɔslaʋʎɛʋɔ jɛʋǎndʑɛːʎɛ]) is a 362-page illuminated manuscript Gospel Book on parchment with very rich decorations. It is one of the oldest surviving documents written in the Serbian recension of Church Slavonic. The gospel is considered a masterpiece of illustration and calligraphy.

National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is an independent agency of the United States government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to those documents, which comprise the National Archives. NARA is officially responsible for maintaining and publishing the legally authentic and authoritative copies of acts of Congress, presidential directives, and federal regulations. The NARA also transmits votes of the Electoral College to Congress.

National Central Library

The National Central Library (NCL; Chinese: 國家圖書館; pinyin: Guójiā Túshūguǎn) is the national library of Taiwan, Republic of China, which it is located at No. 20, Zhongshan S. Rd., Zhongzheng District, Taipei City 10001, Taiwan (ROC).

National Diet Library

The National Diet Library (NDL) (国立国会図書館, Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan) is the national library of Japan and among the largest libraries in the world. It was established in 1948 for the purpose of assisting members of the National Diet of Japan (国会, Kokkai) in researching matters of public policy. The library is similar in purpose and scope to the United States Library of Congress.

The National Diet Library (NDL) consists of two main facilities in Tōkyō and Kyōtō, and several other branch libraries throughout Japan.

National Library of Armenia

The National Library of Armenia (Armenian: Հայաստանի Ազգային Գրադարան (Hayastani Azgayin Gradaran)) is a national public library in Yerevan, Armenia. It was founded in 1832 as part of the state gymnasium-school of Yerevan. It is the official cultural deposit for the entire republic.

The current building of the library dating back to 1939, is on Teryan street of Kentron district. It was designed by architect Alexander Tamanyan to house around seven million books. Between 1925 and 1990, the library was named after Aleksandr Myasnikyan.

Currently, the library is home to a collection of 6.6 million books.

National Library of Pakistan

The National Library of Pakistan (Urdu:قومى کتب خانہ پاکستان), is the national and the research library located in the vicinity of the Constitutional Avenue, Islamabad, Pakistan. American author, Stuart Murray, argues that it is the oldest cultural institutional that plays a leading role in providing the resource for information— ancient and new.Established in 1951, it was originally housed in the secretariat of Ministry of Education (MoEd) and amalgamated with the Liaquat National Library (LNL); it was shifting in Islamabad in 1965 with MoEd's secretariat serving its purpose. In 1962, the Library received the right of transference of all copyrighted works to have two copies deposited of books, maps, illustrations and diagrams printed in Pakistan. It gained more significance in 1992 with the promulgation of copyright (amendment) act 1992. During the 1971 war, the library was thinned with the creation of Bangladesh with key material transferring to Bangladesh. After a period of slow growth in its reconstruction, the library began to enlarge its size and importance in the country. Development culminated in 1980s of an expensive and separated national library building within the vicinity of the Supreme Court's library.Designed with Eastern architecture, the library has space for 500 readers as well as 15 research rooms, a 450-seat auditorium, and computer and microfilm services. At its opening in 1993, the library owned a collection of 130,000 volumes and 600 manuscripts. Clauses to include electronic publications, as deposit material, are also being added to the Copyright law. The national library mission to promote literacy as well serving as a dynamic cultural and educational center for the state's capital– the Islamabad.

National Library of Serbia

The National Library of Serbia (NLS) (Serbian: Народна библиотека Србије / Narodna biblioteka Srbije) is the national library of Serbia, located in the capital city of Belgrade. It is the biggest library, and oldest institution in Serbia.

National Library of Sweden

The National Library of Sweden (Swedish: Kungliga biblioteket, KB, meaning "the Royal Library") is the national library of Sweden. As such it collects and preserves all domestic printed and audio-visual materials in Swedish, as well as content with Swedish association published abroad. Being a research library, it also has major collections of literature in other languages.


Nóvita is a municipality and town in the Chocó Department, Colombia.

It was the first capital of Chocó Province. It was a traditional center for gold mining, Many of its residents are Afro-Colombians.In the 1850s, supplies, and possibly even people, were brought to the town by porters due to "the mountainous terrain, very high rainfall, and many rivers" of the surrounding region.

Russian State Library

The Russian State Library (Russian: Российская государственная библиотека) is the national library of Russia, located in Moscow. It is the largest in the country and the fifth largest in the world for its collection of books (17.5 million). It was named the V. I. Lenin State Library of the USSR from 1925 until it was renamed in 1992 as the Russian State Library.

The library has over 275 km of shelves with more than 43 million items, including over 17 million books and serial volumes, 13 million journals, 350 thousand music scores and sound records, 150,000 maps and others. There are items in 247 languages of the world, the foreign part representing about 29 percent of the entire collection.

Between 1922 and 1991 at least one copy of every book published in the USSR was deposited with the library, a practice which continues in a similar method today, with the library designated by law as a legal deposit library.

Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine

Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine, VNLU (Ukrainian: Національна бібліотека України імені В.І. Вернадського) is the main academic library and main scientific information centre in Ukraine, one of the world's largest (top twenty) national libraries. Its main building is located in the capital of the country – Kiev, Demiivka neighborhood.

The library contains about 15 million items. The library has the most complete collection of Slavic writing, archives of outstanding world and Ukrainian scientists and cultural persons. The holdings include the collection of the Presidents of Ukraine, archive copies of Ukrainian printed documents from 1917, and archives of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.

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