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November 22, 2005

Google supports library’s digitization project

The US Library of Congress has launched into an ambitious new project to create a World Digital Library with the support of a $3 million donation from Google.

By CBR Staff Writer

The first financial contribution to the project is reflective of Google’s shared interest in the digitization of information. Google co-founder and president of technology Sergy Brin explained why the company was backing the project: Google supports the World Digital Library (WDL) because we share a common mission of making the world’s information universally accessible and useful. To create a global digital library is a historic opportunity, and we support the Library of Congress in this effort.

The concept for the WDL came from a speech that librarian of Congress James Billington delivered to the newly established US National Commission for UNESCO on June 6, 2005, at Georgetown University, during which he proposed that public research institutions and libraries work with private funders to begin digitizing significant primary materials of different cultures from institutions across the globe.

Mr Billington said that the World Digital Library would bring together online rare and unique cultural materials held in US and Western repositories with those of other great cultures such as those that lie beyond Europe and involve more than one billion people.

In what promises to be a massive project, the first move for the Library will be the development a plan for identifying technology issues related to digitization and organization of WDL collections. It will have to consider presentation, maintenance, standards and metadata schemas that support both access and preservation. Resources, equipment, staffing and funding will all have to be accounted for before work can begin.

The Library has extensive experience in digital libraries as was seen in its creation of the National Digital Library Program in 1994 and its launch of its Global Gateway web site in 2000. But the new WDL proposes to broaden the geographic scope of information, focusing on other nations’ cultures and histories including non-western nations and cultures.

The Library hopes the project will attract the same kind of support Google has lent it from other private sector companies and will work alongside UNESCO to promote the development of similar digitization of projects in other countries.

As this latest US-led global project demonstrates, internet technology, the evolving mass of global information that it is, will continue lend itself to ever more innovative extensions to the traditional conveyances of information.

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