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.