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December 04, 2005

Library of Congress(LOC) and Google Talk to Press on World Digital Library

"The Library of Congress and Google have issued a joint press release on the World Digital Library (November 22). Excerpt:

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin announced today that Google is the first private-sector company to contribute to the Library's initiative to develop a plan to begin building a World Digital Library (WDL) for use by other libraries around the globe. The effort would be supported by funds from nonexclusive, public and private partnerships, of which Google is the first. The concept for the WDL came from a speech that Billington delivered to the newly established U.S. National Commission for UNESCO on June 6, 2005, at Georgetown University....In his speech, Billington 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. Billington said that the World Digital Library would bring together online “rare and unique cultural materials held in U.S. and Western repositories with those of other great cultures such as those that lie beyond Europe and involve more than 1 billion people: Chinese East Asia, Indian South Asia and the worlds of Islam stretching from Indonesia through Central and West Asia to Africa.” Google Inc. has agreed to donate $3 million as the first partner in this public-private initiative. Google Co-Founder and President of Technology Sergey Brin said, “Google supports the World Digital Library 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 content of the World Digital Library, like that of American Memory, will be primarily one-of-a-kind materials, including manuscript and multimedia materials of the particular culture....The Library and Google recently completed a yearlong cooperative digitization of about 5,000 books in the public domain. The pilot developed procedures for handling and tracking fragile material as well as developing specifications for high-quality scanned images. Google will continue its scanning efforts by digitizing works of historical value from the Library of Congress' Law Library. In making the announcement, Billington emphasized the little-known fact that more than one-half of the book collections of the Library of Congress are in languages other than English. Like the materials in American Memory, those in the World Digital Library will either be in the public domain or made available with special permission. “A World Digital Library would make these collections available free of charge to anyone accessing the Internet, and it could well have the salutary effect of bringing people together by celebrating the depth and uniqueness of different cultures in a single global undertaking,” said Billington. “We are grateful for Google's contribution to this important initiative, and we will seek contributions from other private sector companies with an equally enlightened self-interest."

Source: P.Suber. LOC-Google press release on World Digital Library. OANews (22/12/2005) [FullText]

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