The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United States Library of Congress have signed a pact paving the way for the creation of a World Digital Library which will digitize rare materials from libraries and other cultural institutions globally and make them available free on the Internet.
Manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photographs will all be available online thanks to the agreement signed between UNESCO and the United States Library of Congress.
The prototype for the initiative was developed by the Library of Congress and UNESCO with five other partner institutions: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the National Library of Egypt, the National Library of Brazil, the National Library of Russia, and the Russian State Library.
The prototype functions in the UN's six official languages Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish as well as in Portuguese.
It features search and browse by place, time, topic, and contributing institution. A key aspect of the project is to build digital library capabilities in developing countries, so that all countries and all regions can participate and be represented in the World Digital Library.