US, UNESCO to cooperate on global digital library

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PARIS, Oct 17 (Reuters) The US Library of Congress and UNESCO will cooperate to develop a digital library of works from around the world, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said today.

''The World Digital Library initiative will digitize unique and rare materials from libraries and other cultural institutions around the world and make them available free of charge on the Internet,'' Paris-based UNESCO said in a statement.

It said material would include manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, sound recordings, films, prints and photographs.

The project, backed by Internet giant Google, was launched by the Library of Congress in 2005, with the aim of digitizing records of the great cultures of the world.

The UNESCO statement said the prototype functioned in the six official languages of the United Nations -- Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish -- as well as Portuguese.

It allows users to search and browse by place, time, topic, and contributing institution, it said.

The project adds to initiatives from Internet entrepreneurs, including Google, to open the world's library collections to a global online audience.

Along with Google, the first private sector backer, the project's partners also include national libraries in Egypt, Russia and Brazil.

REUTERS RSA BST0026

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