Thursday April 23, 2009

The World Digital Library is here

Zooming in on ‘Voyage Around the World by the King’s Frigate La Boudeuse and the Ship L’Etoile in 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769’ by Louis-Antoine de Bougainville, 1772

The World Digital Library (WDL) was launched on Tuesday at UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

It’s an incredible feat of digitisation.

Initial exhibits include The Tale of Genji; the first Aztec mention of child Jesus; ancient Arabic texts that were used in the formation of algebra; Chinese oracle bone script; an 8,000-year-old African painting of bleeding antelopes; the Waldseemüller map, the earliest map to mention America by name; the Codex Gigas; Samuel de Champlain’s Des Sauvages; an audio recording of a 101-year-old former American slave; World War I recruitment posters; an 1899 Swedish government handbook for Scandinavian immigrants; Doctrina Christiana, en lengua española y tagala, the first Spanish and Tagalog book ever published; an Aleutian translation of the Bible by a Russian saint; Islamic manuscripts from Mali; Hyakumanto Darani; rare photographs originating in Imperial China, the Ottoman Empire, and Tsarist Russia; the first recording of La Marseillaise; the world’s first film from the Lumiere brothers; a photolithographic reproduction of the Constitution of India; calligraphy by Prem Behari Narain Raizda; the Huexotzinco Codex; and the Nuremberg Chronicle.

The WDL makes it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures from around the world on one site, in a variety of ways. These cultural treasures include, but are not limited to, manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, and architectural drawings.

Navigation tools and content descriptions are provided in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Many more languages are represented in the actual books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, and other primary materials, which are provided in their original languages.

The World Digital Library was developed by a team at the U.S. Library of Congress, with contributions by partner institutions in many countries.

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