Better a day late than a dollar short, I say, especially in this economy. Yesterday the World Digital Library, long in preparation by the Library of Congress, was officially inaugurated at UNESCO in Paris to great fanfare.
Although one might think that something with such a title would encompass more than the 1,170 items presently there (from 26 partner institutions), these are clearly selected cultural treasures — not just a compendium of everything possible. Primarily set up for browsing, the main page offers a geographic browse on a depiction of the world, with item counts by large region. Also available from the main page are browse options for:
These categories also provide the facets in the lefthand column of search or browse results so users can easily select what they want to see.
But where it really gets impressive is the care taken to make the site completely usable in seven different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Once you select a language, everything is translated, including the descriptive metadata for each item. The tool to view images provides ways to zoom in and pan but you can also download the entire file.
Leslie Johnston reports on some technical details:
As reported on Twitter by the Library of Congress, the site had seen "More than 2 million page views today as of 1500 GMT". They also reported on Twitter that the inauguration of the site was held in the Paris Hilton. I’m telling you, I can’t make this stuff up.