The World Digital Library initiative gets further expanded
"Libraries, especially digital libraries, are truly at the heart of knowledge societies; they enable people to access, share and apply knowledge. UNESCO is committed to further expand universal participation in the World Digital Library (WDL) which reflects the values and priorities of our Organization" said UNESCO's Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Communication and Information at the opening of the first official meeting of the WDL partners held in Washington, DC on June 22-23.
The meeting elected a 7-member Executive Council, including UNESCO and the Library of Congress in their capacity as ex-officio members. In connection with this meeting the Carnegie Corporation of New York supported a conference of directors and technical staff from libraries, archives, and museums in 11 countries - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan - to identify important documents and collections from these countries that should be added to the WDL.
Under the same grant, which was awarded in July 2009, the World Digital Library worked with the National Library of Uganda (NLU) to establish a Digital Conversion Center at the NLU in Kampala. This center, the first of its kind in Uganda and one of very few in sub-Saharan Africa, is enabling the National Library to digitize documents relating to the history and culture of Uganda for inclusion on its own website and on the WDL. The items digitized are from the NLU and other cooperating institutions in Uganda. Future activities planned under the grant include efforts to build capacity at libraries in South Africa so they, too can contribute collections to the WDL.
"Capacity-building is a crucial element of the WDL, which is more than just a very high-tech website. In order to ensure participation by all countries that wish to share their cultural heritage with the world via the WDL, we need to assist them with training, equipment, and software" said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington.
"Carnegie Corporation is proud to be a supporter of the World Digital Library Project, which expands on Andrew Carnegie's vision of opening the library doors of the world even wider and increasing access to knowledge and wisdom for all." said Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
The World Digital Library has now 85 partners from some 55 countries. More than 10 million users worldwide have visited the WDL (<a href="http://www.wdl.org">www.wdl.org</a>) since its official launch in April 2009.