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World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) is a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, carried out with the support of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO), and in cooperation with libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations from around the world.

The WDL makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from all countries and cultures.

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.


  • About World Digital Library Website
  • World Digital Library Partners
  • World Digital Library Organization, Governance, and Financial Support
  • World Digital Library Digitization Centers
  • References

About World Digital Library Website

  • Type of site: International education
  • Available in: Multilingual
  • Created by: Library of Congress
  • Launched: April 21, 2009

The WDL makes it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures and significant historical documents on one site, in a variety of ways. Content on the WDL includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and films.

WDL items can be browsed by place, time, topic, type of item, language, and contributing institution. The search feature can be used to search all of the metadata and descriptions and the full text of printed books on the site.

Each item on the WDL is accompanied by an item-level description that explains its significance and historical context. Additional information about selected items is provided by curator videos. Other features include advanced image-viewing, timelines, interactive maps, and in-depth thematic sections on selected topics (in preparation).

All navigation tools, bibliographic information (also known as metadata), and content descriptions are provided in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Metadata and descriptions can be listened to on a text-to-voice conversion option that is available for every item in all seven interface languages.

Content on the WDL is selected by partner institutions in accordance with guidelines set by the WDL Content Selection Committee. Content is chosen for its cultural and historical importance, with due regard to recognition of the achievements of all countries and cultures over a wide range of time periods.

Books, manuscripts, maps, and other primary materials on the site are not translated but presented in their original languages. More than 100 languages are represented on the WDL, including many lesser known and endangered languages.

World Digital Library

World Digital Library Partners

Partners are mainly libraries, archives, museums, or other institutions with collections of cultural content that they contribute to the WDL. Partners also may include institutions, foundations, and private companies that contribute to the project in other ways, for example by sharing technology, convening or co-sponsoring meetings, or contributing financially.

See a current list of all partners:
  • Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage
  • Al-Noor Center for Research and Studies, Yemen
  • Alessandrina Library
  • Allama Iqbal Library, University of Kashmir
  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  • Anna Centenary Library
  • Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records
  • Austrian National Library
  • Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon
  • Bavarian State Library
  • Berlin State Library - Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina
  • Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library
  • Brown University Library
  • Cabildo of Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
  • Casanatense Library
  • Center for the Study of the History of Mexico CARSO
  • Central Institute for Sound and Audiovisual Heritage
  • Central Library of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
  • Central Scientific Library of V.N. Karazin Kharkiv National University
  • Central State Archive
  • Circus World Museum
  • Columbus Memorial Library, Organization of American States
  • Complutense University of Madrid
  • EAFIT University
  • Educational Documentation Centre of Circus Arts (CEDAC)
  • Estense Library, Modena
  • Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Foundation New Era Nicaragua
  • General Archive of the Nation
  • George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida
  • Government College University Lahore
  • Greek-Catholic Diocese of Aleppo
  • Heidelberg University Library
  • Hill Museum & Manuscript Library
  • Holy Spirit University of Kaslik
  • Illinois State University's Special Collections, Milner Library
  • Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, Prince Sultan Library for Science and Knowledge
  • Institute for the European Intellectual Lexicon and History of Ideas (ILIESI) - CNR
  • Institute for the History of the Italian Risorgimento
  • Institute of History of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
  • Iraqi National Library and Archives
  • Irish College in Paris
  • John Carter Brown Library
  • John M. Kelly Library, University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto
  • Kenyan National Library Service
  • King Abdulaziz Public Library
  • King Abdulaziz University Library
  • King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)
  • Library and Archives of Canada
  • Library of Congress
  • Library of Galicia
  • Library of Modern and Contemporary History
  • Library of the Klosterneuburg Monastery
  • Library of the National Academy of the Lincei and of the Corsini Family
  • Library of the National Congress of Chile
  • Library of the National Monument of Grottaferrata
  • Louisiana State Museum
  • Makerere University Library
  • Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library
  • Massachusetts Historical Society
  • Medicea Laurenziana Library, Florence
  • Mexican National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA)
  • Middle East Institute
  • Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities, Italy
  • Ministry of Education, Kingdom of Bahrain
  • Municipal Library Intronati
  • Museum Plantin-Moretus/Print Room
  • National Academic Library and Information System (NALIS) Foundation
  • National Academic Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Astana
  • National and University Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • National and University Library “St Kliment Ohridski” – Skopje
  • National Archives and Library of Ethiopia
  • National Archives of Haiti
  • National Archives of St. Kitts and Nevis
  • National Archives of St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • National Central Library
  • National Central Library of Florence
  • National Central Library of Rome
  • National Diet Library
  • National Institute of Anthropology and History INAH
  • National Institution - Universal Library “St. Kliment Ohridski” – Bitola
  • National Library and Archives of Egypt
  • National Library and Archives of Quebec
  • National Library and Archives of the Islamic Republic of Iran
  • National Library and National Archives of Andorra
  • National Library of Albania
  • National Library of Argentina
  • National Library of Armenia
  • National Library of Azerbaijan
  • National Library of Belarus
  • National Library of Brazil
  • National Library of Bulgaria
  • National Library of Catalonia
  • National Library of Chile
  • National Library of China
  • National Library of Colombia
  • National Library of Cuba "José Martí"
  • National Library of Estonia
  • National Library of France
  • National Library of Guyana
  • National Library of Israel
  • National Library of Jamaica
  • National Library of Kazakhstan
  • National Library of Korea
  • National Library of Laos
  • National Library of Latvia
  • National Library of Malta
  • National Library of Moldova
  • National Library of Naples
  • National Library of New Zealand
  • National Library of Nigeria
  • National Library of Norway
  • National Library of Peru
  • National Library of Portugal
  • National Library of Romania
  • National Library of Russia
  • National Library of Serbia
  • National Library of South Africa
  • National Library of Spain
  • National Library of Sudan
  • National Library of Sweden
  • National Library of the Czech Republic
  • National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco
  • National Library of the Kyrgyz Republic
  • National Library of the Netherlands
  • National Library of the Philippines
  • National Library of Uganda
  • National Library of Viet Nam
  • National Library of Wales
  • National Parliamentary Library of Georgia
  • National Sound Archive, Mexico
  • National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy Library
  • Near East School of Theology
  • Oman Memory (Center for Omani Heritage)
  • Oriental Institute Museum
  • Oriental Library, University of St. Joseph
  • Our Lady of Balamand Patriarchal Monastery
  • Patriarchal Clergy Institute of Bzommar
  • Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
  • Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
  • Qatar National Library
  • Réseau francophone numérique
  • Riccardiana Library of Florence
  • Romanian Academy Library
  • Royal Library (The), Denmark
  • Royal Library of Turin
  • Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and the Caribbean Studies KITLV
  • Russian State Library
  • Saxon State and University Library, Dresden
  • Scientific Library of Lviv Polytechnic National University
  • Sitka Historical Society
  • Slovak National Library
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • State Library and Archives of Florida
  • State Library of Lucca
  • State Library of South Australia
  • Stellenbosch University
  • Sultan Qaboos University Library
  • Syriac-Orthodox Archdiocese of Aleppo
  • Tetouan-Asmir Association
  • The American University in Cairo Rare Books and Special Collections Library
  • The Bolshoi St. Petersburg State Circus - Museum of Circus Art
  • The British Library
  • The Electronic Library - Ministry of Awqaf and Religious Affairs, Sultanate of Oman
  • The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
  • The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art
  • The Library Company of Philadelphia
  • The Municipal Library of Porto
  • The National Library of Finland
  • The Newberry Library
  • The “Reborn Art” Charitable Foundation
  • Tulane University, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library
  • U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • United Nations Office at Geneva Library
  • University Library in Bratislava
  • University Library of Naples
  • University Library of Padua
  • University Library of Sassari
  • University of Alaska Anchorage
  • University of Chile
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa Library
  • University of Pretoria Library
  • University of South Africa Library, Pretoria
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of Texas Libraries
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries
  • Uppsala University Library
  • V.I. Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine
  • V.K. Arseniev Primorsky Regional Unified Museum
  • Valencian Library Nicolau Primitiu
  • Vasyl Stefanyk Lviv Scientific Library of Ukraine
  • Vilnius University Library
  • Walters Art Museum
  • Wellcome Library
  • World Circus Federation
  • Yale University Library
  • Yaroslav Mudryi National Library of Ukraine

World Digital Library Organization, Governance, and Financial Support

The WDL is an international collaboration, led by the Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO.

The WDL Charter, adopted in 2010, designates the Library of Congress as the Project Manager, and provides for an annual partner meeting and an Executive Council elected by the partners. Under the terms of the WDL Charter, the Executive Council provides leadership and direction to the WDL. The Executive Council is chaired by Dr. Ismail Serageldin, Director, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt, and includes members from Brazil, China, Germany, Qatar, the United States, and UNESCO. The WDL Director at the Library of Congress is Dr. John Van Oudenaren.

To carry out its responsibilities as Project Manager, and in particular to maintain the WDL website, the Library of Congress depends upon contributions from foundations, companies, and private individuals.

World Digital Library Digitization Centers

While many of the partners or prospective partners that wish to contribute content to the WDL have well-established digitization programs with dedicated staff and equipment, others, particularly in the developing world, do not have access to these capabilities. Over the years, the Library of Congress has provided partners in Brazil, Russia, Egypt, Iraq, and Uganda with equipment, software, training, and financial support to establish digital conversion centers to produce high-quality digital images. Much of the content on the WDL was digitized at these centers. The WDL currently supports and receives content from three digitization centers: at the Iraqi National Library and Archives in Baghdad, at the National Library and Archives of Egypt in Cairo, and at the National Library of Uganda in Kampala.

The WDL supports UNESCO's mission of capacity building in developing countries, and seeks to work with partners in these countries and external funders to establish additional digital conversion centers throughout the world. These centers will produce content not only for the WDL, but for other national and international projects as well.


1. World Digital Library. (accessed April 20, 2020).

2. Wikipedia, "World Digital Library," (accessed April 20, 2020).