The UNESCO and the U.S. Library of Congress, in collaboration with another 26 institutions from 19 countries, have launched today the World Digital Library, a content repository that allows users around the world to consult search and browse features in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
The idea of storing a wide number of historical documents (such as books, audio files, maps, pictures and videos) has been an aspiration for many people since the Internet was born. On my opinion that there were two important requirements on the development of this project:
- Technology: some years ago it would have been impossible to compile an store such a big amount of information and serve it to a big audience. The born of new formats and the lower cost of technologies made this project feasible.
- Authority: not everyone has the moral and legal authority to compile and offer all this information to the users. UNESCO is the most indicated institution for this purpose, followed by a very respected library like U.S Congress, which is the main contributor to the project.
Next steps on this way, says UNESCO, will be targeted to involve more institutions from all UNESCO member countries, increase the quantity and diversity of content on the WDL, forging mutually beneficial cooperation with other digital library projects and soliciting feedback from relevant user groups.
Despite of the fact that the content indexed on the WDL is copyright protected, its legal announcement recommends to consult copytight questions to each contributor partner. WDL is obviosuly an open educational resources project, but as long as it allows us the access to key and historical documents easy and freely, it’s importance and utility is not debatable.