In his opening remarks, the Director-General recalled that when Mr Billington had asked him to support the World Digital Library initiative, he had responded positively not only because of the long-standing relationship between the two institutions, but also because he felt “UNESCO could and should play an important role in ensuring the digital library’s universality through UNESCO’s worldwide networks.”
“Our digital heritage has grown considerably over the past decade”, Mr Matsuura went on. “Encouraging and enabling the preservation and enjoyment of the cultural, scientific and information heritage of the world, including its digital heritage, is a priority for UNESCO.
For this purpose, UNESCO is committed to cooperating with all memory-collecting institutions - libraries, archives and museums - to respond to the rapid evolution of the online environment. For digital libraries to be effective, they must grow interactively and be used collaboratively by all.”
An initiative of the US Library of Congress, the World Digital Library aims to digitize unique and rare materials from libraries and other cultural institutions around the world and make them available free of charge on the Internet. Together with the five other partner institutions – the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the National Library of Brazil, the National Library and Archives of Egypt, the National Library of Russia and the Russian State Library – a prototype of the World Digital Library (WDL) has been developed. The prototype in seven languages is currently at display at UNESCO Headquarters.
Earlier in the day, UNESCO and the US Library of Congress had signed an umbrella agreement, under the terms of which the institutions will cooperate in developing guidelines and technical specifications for the WDL, enlisting new partners, and securing the necessary support from private and public sources. A key aspect of the WDL is to build digital library capabilities in developing countries so that countries and parts of the world can participate and be represented in the World Digital Library.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 142-2007 - Publication Date: 19-10-2007