Yale University Library has joined with UNESCO, the Library of Congress and 30 international institutions in Paris today to launch the World Digital Library, a web site that features cultural materials from libraries and archives around the world.
The site, located at www.wdl.org, provides free, unrestricted public access to manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs.
Yale has contributed a number of important works in the pilot phase, including 22 pencil drawings of the Amistad slave ship prisoners, from about1839-40; William Clark's 1810 map of North America; an Arabic calligraphy primer, from around 1852-53; and one of three manuscript copies of Ferdinand Magellan's journal from his voyage around the world in 1522.
Yale University Librarian Alice Prochaska says: "The Library is proud to be part of this robust digital partnership and looks forward to making many of our rich and unusual collections available to researchers and students around the world. The World Digital Library also supports the Library's and Yale's mission to promote education, research and the dissemination of knowledge while preserving our cultural heritage for future generations."
The World Digital Library functions in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish, and includes content in more than 40 languages.
Browse and search features facilitate cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration on the site. Descriptions and videos, some with expert curators speaking about selected items, provide context intended to spark curiosity and encourage both students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.