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New Digital Library to Display World On the Internet


From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

What is a place where you could find old pictures of camels carrying people to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and also books about ancient Aztecs in Mexico? It is all found in the World Digital Library(WDL). Its collection is available on the Internet.

The library has 8,000 items from whole books to ancient writings, to music and photographs. There are 170 partners in 79 countries sending material to the World Digital Library. Partners include national or university libraries, museums and other cultural organizations.

The librarian of the United States Congress James Billington launched the WDL in 2009. John Van Oudenaren is the director of the library. He says Mr Billington wanted it to include items that are both interesting and important.

"So we are looking for things that from each country, each culture, each civilization. Things that are unique and important and help to tell the story of that place."

Every item is explained in the 6 official languages of the United Nations: English, Arabic, French, Spanish, Chinese, Russian plus Portuguese.
Since 2009, 25 million people have visited the website from 250 places. The greatest number is from Spanish-speaking countries. Mr Van Oudenaren says users include schools, researchers and anyone interested.

"People say this is what the Internet should be about. And that kind warms my heart."

He was especially happy to hear from one teacher in New York City.

"And she said it was really wonderful to have a site where every kid in the class, no matter what country they were from or where their parents were from could search and find something about that country that was interesting and important."

Mussa Maravl is a researcher for the WDL from Sudan. He works with all the materials that are in Arabic. He recently published rare photographs of Mecca from 1885.

"These camels were , you know, lying their heads on the ground, which is very unusual for a camel. It means these camels have travelled so far, so long, and half of those camels were very thin, too, meaning they have exhausted all the fat they have stored there."

Mussa Maravl believes the library provides tools for understanding, especially among Arabs, Muslims and United States. He says the WDL is posting many items about important developments in Arabic and Islamic science.

"The kind of cultural heritage you are promoting is exactly, I believe, what the world need to choose. Basically all these cultures contribute together to promote understanding throughout humanity in general."

Anyone may search the World Digital Library by subject, time period, kind of document or area of the world. The website is
And that is the Technology Report from Learning English. I'm Karen Leggett.