Institutions from Sub-Saharan Africa and Former Soviet Republics Join World Digital Library

New institutions from Sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Republics have joined the World Digital Library.

Here's an excerpt from the press release:

Under a $2 million grant awarded by Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Library of Congress has completed the first stages of a three-year effort to enable cultural institutions in sub-Saharan Africa and the countries of the former Soviet Union to join the World Digital Library (WDL), an award-winning project initiated by the Library in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) to provide free, multilingual access to important cultural and historical documents from all 193 UNESCO member states.

The WDL now has 85 partners from 55 countries. More than 10 million users from every nation in the world have visited the WDL – – since its launch in April 2009.

In connection with the first official meeting of the WDL partners, to take place in Washington, DC on June 22-23, Carnegie Corporation of New York today will support a conference of directors and technical staff from libraries, archives, and museums in 11 countries of the former Soviet Union – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan — to identify important documents and collections from these countries that should be added to the WDL. The conference will identify the personnel and infrastructural needs these nations must fulfill to participate in national and international digital library projects. It will also seek to map out a strategy to ensure that the cultural richness of the Central Asian and Caucasus countries as well as Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus are reflected in the WDL. Representatives of Russian libraries already participating in the WDL will take part in the conference as observers.

Under the same Carnegie Corporation of New York grant, which was awarded in July 2009, the Library of Congress worked with the National Library of Uganda (NLU) to establish a Digital Conversion Center at the NLU in Kampala. This center, the first of its kind in Uganda and one of very few in sub-Saharan Africa, is enabling the national library to digitize documents relating to the history and culture of Uganda for inclusion on its own website and on the WDL. The items digitized are from the NLU and other cooperating institutions in Uganda. They include such documents as those that led to the first constitution of Uganda and several related to the movement for independence; early accounts of missions to Uganda; and the original of the 1898 treaty between Great Britain and the Kingdom of Buganda.

The Library of Congress and Carnegie Corporation of New York provided digitization equipment and software to Uganda’s NLU and helped the institution in Kampala recruit a dedicated digital conversion staff. That staff was trained by a five-person team from the Library of Congress in content selection, preservation, digitization and metadata creation. Gertrude Kayaga Mulindwa, Director of the National Library of Uganda, will address the WDL partner meeting on her institution’s experience in establishing the digital conversion center and the experience gained and lessons learned for capacity-building in other developing country libraries. Future activities planned under the grant include efforts to build capacity at libraries in South Africa so they, too can contribute collections to the WDL.