World Digital Library (WDL)

 The World Digital Library (WDL) is a project of the Library of Congress, carried out with the support of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations from around the world.

The WDL makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from all countries and cultures.

The principal objectives of the WDL are to:

  • Promote international and intercultural understanding;
  • Expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet;
  • Provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences;
  • Build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries

Key Features

  1. Consistent metadata: Each item is described by a consistent set of bibliographic information (or metadata) relating to its geographical, temporal, and topical coverage, among other requirements. Consistent metadata provides the foundation for a site that is easy and interesting to explore, and that helps to reveal connections between items. The metadata also improves exposure to external search engines.
  2. Description: Among the most distinctive features of the WDL are the descriptions provided for each item. These descriptions are intended to answer two questions: “What is this item and why is it significant?” This information, written by curators and other experts, provides context for users and is designed to spark the curiosity of students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.
  3. Multilingualism: The metadata, navigation, and supporting content (e.g., curator videos) are translated into seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. This feature lengthened site development and complicates maintenance, but brings WDL closer to the goal of being truly universal.
  4. Digital library technical development: The WDL team's work with state-of-the art tools and technologies led to advances in cataloging and multilingual website development:
    • A new cataloging application was developed to support the metadata requirements.
    • A centralized tool with a translation memory was used, which prevents translators from having to translate the same word or phrase twice.
    • An interface was developed, which features the WDL content in ways that are appealing to nontraditional users and that encourage exploration of primary sources.
    • New technologies continue to be developed, improving workflow and reducing the t
      ime elapsed between content selection and availability on the site.
  5. Collaborative network: The WDL emphasizes openness in all aspects of the project: access to content; technology transfer for capacity building; and partner, stakeholder, and user participation. Technical and programmatic networks are seen as vital to WDL's sustainability and growth.

Source: https://www.wdl.org/en/background/


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