Launched in 2009, the World Digital Library (WDL) was a project of the U.S. Library of Congress, with the support of UNESCO, and contributions from libraries, archives, museums, educational institutions, and international organizations around the world. The WDL sought to preserve and share some of the world’s most important cultural objects, increasing access to cultural treasures and significant historical documents to enable discovery, scholarship, and use.

After more than 10 years of operation, WDL is now celebrating its success as a world-wide collection of cross-cultural treasures by transitioning into a sustainable home for perpetual access on the Library of Congress’s main website. This transition is expected to be completed by the end of calendar year 2021, providing a view these resources as a coherent collection, while allowing the WDL material to benefit from ongoing enhancements to the loc.gov website.

The Collection

The materials collected by the WDL make it possible to discover, study, and enjoy cultural treasures and significant historical documents including books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, journals, prints and photographs, sound recordings, and films.

Content in the WDL was selected by partner institutions in accordance with guidelines set by the WDL Content Selection Committee. Content was 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 presented in their original languages. More than 100 languages are represented in the WDL collection, including many lesser known and endangered languages.