It seemed like a project that would be difficult to materialize, but today it is a reality. After five years of hard work, James H. Billington, a librarian at the US Library of Congress, has managed to create a free, easily accessible and easy-to-use Internet website to promote understanding between nations.
Thus, the World Digital Library was launched in 2009 with support from the Unesco and to date has over 1,500 documents available, including maps, books, videos and photographs from countries all over the world, which are available on the website www.wdl.org. Chile has also made a contribution.
The country is participating in the initiative through the National Library, which has formally provided 74 documents that will go directly to the website like the two volumes of the atlas of physical and political history by Claude Gay, a 19th century French pioneer of science in Chile.
In addition to this material, which is already available, in the coming months the historic epic poem El Reyno de Chile by Alonso de Ercilla, Sermón en Lengua de Chile by Luis de Valdivia, essays on popular poetry and witchcraft, 16th and 17th century maps, historic photos by Antonio Quintana, and a draft of Vicente Huidobro’s poem Moulin will be added.
The material Chile provided also has additional value. WDL has a team of 20 professionals in charge of digitalizing the contents of the website, but in the case of the South American country that work has already been done thanks to the efforts of the website www.memoriachilena.cl, which has been pioneering this work in Latin America and digitalizing cultural documents since 2001, making it the most important digital library in the country.
In addition to Chile, other institutions that have joined in these efforts include the national libraries of Iraq, Russia, Mexico and Alexandria, as well as Yale University (USA). Thus, you can see Chinese maps dating to 1136, early 20th century Arab diaries, and even manuscripts from Mohammed’s day.
The website is available in seven languages, including Spanish, English, French, Chinese and Russian. The high-resolution images can be enlarged and documents can be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email.