Friday, May 1, 2009

Digital Library for a Literate World

The United Nations has unveiled the new World Digital Library. (More information from the New York Times here.)

And it is beautiful - intuitive faceted searching in all seven official UN languages; archival TIFF images; clean controlled vocabulary; global scope. The only other thing I can imagine asking for is plain text files of the manuscript images. But since everything in the WDL is in the public domain, I'm guessing the good folks at Project Gutenberg will be jumping on that opportunity.

I can't wait to see how this grows. As the world becomes increasingly literate, we can think of these texts as a truly world heritage.


Bruce said...

I also very much like the interface of the Digital Library. I'd love to see more institutions participate in it though - I wonder if the designers have an equally elegant upload/admin side to it so that librarians, archivists and curators can easily submit material?

Laura Wimberley said...

I would hope so - but I'm not sure how central ease of submission is to its goals. The NYT article said:
"The world library will grow as more organizations join it, he [the US Librarian of Congress] said. Member institutions can decide which works to make available, though in cooperation with a working group from the project."

What I'm hearing there is a greater emphasis on collection curation and selection. Some barriers to access might not be such a bad thing?

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Libri & Libertas: Books & Freedom in a Web 2.0 World by Laura H. Wimberley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - Share Alike 3.0 United States License.