Humanity’s Earliest Written Works Go Online (Apr. 21, 2009) —There is the launch of the World Digital Library in Paris, Tuesday. National libraries and UNESCO have put some of humanity’s earliest written works, from Chinese oracle bones to Latin America’s first novel, online in the World Digital Library.

digital-library1The concept of World Digital Library is modeled on the Library of Congress’ American Memory project, which debuted in the 1990s and now has 11 million history-related items online.

This site is aimed at researchers, teachers and schoolchildren worldwide. The World Digital Library that is not to compete with Google or Wikipedia but to attract young readers, said James Billington, US Librarian of Congress.

The Website is in seven languages – English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.

Among World Digital Library, you will find a 1562 map of the New World; the only known copy of the first book published in the Philippines, in Spanish and Tagalog; an 11th-century Serbian manuscript; and the oracle bones – pieces of bone or tortoise shell heated and cracked and inscribed that are among the earliest known signs of Chinese writings. It also has early photographs, films and audio tracks.

This Website provides you page-by-page viewing of the original works, scanned in by the national libraries that took part in the project, often with multilingual narration by curators.

It unites items about one subject but held in different countries, in a kind of online retrospective. “It brings together cultural heritage that’s scattered around the world,” Billington said.

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