World Digital Library

wdl2Anoth­er big dig­i­tal archive went live this week. Backed by the Unit­ed Nations, the World Dig­i­tal Library wants to cen­tral­ize cul­tur­al trea­sures from around the world. Man­u­scripts, maps, rare books, musi­cal scores, record­ings, films, prints, pho­tographs, and archi­tec­tur­al draw­ings — they will all be absorbed into this grow­ing online col­lec­tion, and users will be able to nav­i­gate through these mate­ri­als in sev­en dif­fer­ent lan­guages (Ara­bic, Chi­nese, Eng­lish, French, Por­tuguese, Span­ish and Russ­ian). The col­lec­tion (to which Google con­tributed $3 mil­lion in 2005) now hosts about 1,250 arti­facts, a frac­tion of what it will even­tu­al­ly include. The ini­tial col­lec­tion fea­tures some gems. Take for exam­ple the Tale of the Gen­ji, a Japan­ese text from the ear­ly 11th cen­tu­ry that’s often con­sid­ered “the first great nov­el in world lit­er­a­ture.” You can also take a close look at some Ora­cle Bones from Chi­na cir­ca 1200 BC. Or how about these icon­ic pho­tos from The Great Depres­sion or these shots of the great Jack­ie Robin­son. To learn more about this new dig­i­tal archive, read this piece in The Wash­ing­ton Post.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.