World Digital Library Underwhelms

The World Digital Library site has a nice interface and a nice mission


The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

The principal objectives of the WDL are to:

* Promote international and intercultural understanding;
* Expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet;
* Provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences;
* Build capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.

so when I read about it in this morning I had to check it our.

Unfortunately, it’s just beginning. The whole library, hosted by the US Library of Congress, has  holdings in English from the dates 8000BC to now has 1170 items in English.  Eleven hundred. Not million.  There are a grand total of eleven documents from Australia, and three from New Zealand.

The US Library of Congress has over 120 million items, so it’s hard not to be unimpressed with a grand launch of a pathetic 1170. It’s either the old tale of library as ‘gatekeeper’ carefully vetting what we should be allowed to access, or it’s example of snail-paced progress.

Memo to self: come back and look at this site again in ten years!

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