The World's Treasures Online
Byline: Deborah K. Dietsch, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Four years ago, James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, had the idea of making the world's cultural treasures - rare books, manuscripts, maps, drawings, films, sound recordings and the like - easily accessible through a Web site.
That dream drew closer to reality Tuesday when the World Digital Library (www.wdl.org) was launched to provide free public access to about 1,200 artifacts.
Contributing to the digitized information site are 26 institutions from 19 countries, mostly national and university libraries. They include the Iraqi National Library and Archives as well as UNESCO, which helped launch the more than $10 million archival project.
Among the esoteric international documents available on the Web site are an Arab astronomy book from the 15th century, drawings of the African captives from the slave ship Amistad and the first map to use the word America.
The model for the digital archive was developed initially in 2007 by the Library of Congress, UNESCO and five institutions, including the Russian State Library. Google Inc. helped fund the development of the prototype with a $3 million contribution. …