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Published: November 11, 2011

World Digital Library (WDL)

An on-line repository of international cultural artifacts organized by the United States LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Backed with $3 million in seed money from the giant search engine Google, the project was devised in 2005 by librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who envisioned a dedicated search engine to explore national and institutional libraries around the world for a “documentary record of [each nation’s] distinctive cultural achievements and aspirations.” The model for the project is the Library of Congress’s own American Memory Project, which has digitized millions of American cultural artifacts such as Mathew Brady’s Civil War photographs and Thomas Edison’s first films. The National Library and Archives of Egypt was the first foreign library to contribute to the World Digital Library, with a series of 10th-century documents written by Islamic scientists. WDL is to be open to the public free of charge.