University of Pretoria joins World Digital Library Project
Posted on 22 February 2009
The University of Pretoria’s Department of Library Services has joined the World Digital Library Project, making it one of the 27 institutions in the world and the only one in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa to belong to this project.
Proposed in 2005 by the Library of Congress in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Digital Library project will make available on the Internet significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.
The project’s goal is to promote international understanding and to provide a resource for use by students, teachers, and general audiences.
The Principal of the University of Pretoria – Professor Calie Pistorius – welcomed news that the University has joined the World Digital Library.
“We appreciate this type of partnership as it enables us to explore various ways of improving our digital information management, database resources management and service delivery. Through this project, our collection will be accessible to other partners across the world,” he said.
During negotiations for membership, the University of Pretoria was represented by Dr Heila Pienaar – Deputy Director, e-Information Strategy and e-Research Enablement. In the final agreement, the University was represented by Mr Robert Moropa – Director of the Department of Library Services, while the Library of Congress was represented by Mr James H Billington - the Librarian of Congress.
"This project is one of those international projects which is a win-win situation as we do not give up our copyright and intellectual property rights. This platform will also be linked to our own UPSpace repository,” said Dr Pienaar.
Mr Moropa pointed out the importance of this partnership: “By accepting the UP Library Services as a partner in this project, it is extremely meaningful for us to be associated with institutions of the stature of Yale University Library, Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the Library of Congress. This gives us the impetus to represent the University, South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa with distinction."
Initially, the University of Pretoria’s Library Services will be contributing and sharing material from its digital collections on rock art and Pretoriana.
“Further to our pursuit of being a world class institution, being accepted as a partner for this project is an acknowledgment of the standard and quality of work that is being done through the digitisation initiatives of the Library. As the only participating partner in sub-Saharan Africa, it further positions the University of Pretoria’s Library Services as a leader in digitisation,” said Ms Ujala Satgoor - Deputy Director at the University’s Department of Library Services.
Pretoriana refers to any media such as articles, photographs, newspapers, brochures, architectural plans, maps, etc on Pretoria. Please follow the ffg link to view some of the items in the Van der Waal Collection already on UPSpace (https://www.up.ac.za/dspace/handle/2263/94).
According to Ms Satgoor, the value of the partnership between the University and the World Digital Library cannot be measured in monetary terms as the goodwill, reputation and exposure that it will bring to the University is immeasurable.
“However when developing the Pretoriana collection, the University can become the initiator and custodian of a much larger Pretoriana Collection. It has the potential to become a city-wide project,” she added.
The World Digital Library will make available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, including manuscripts, maps, rare books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, photographs, architectural drawings, and other significant cultural materials.
The objectives of the World Digital Library are to promote international and inter-cultural understanding and awareness, provide resources to educators, expand non-English and non-Western content on the Internet, and to contribute to scholarly research.
The World Digital Library project will be launched at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France on the 21st April 2009.
Institutions that are members of the World Digital Library project are: Library Services of the University of Pretoria, Yale University Library, Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Egypt), Brown University Library, Central Library (Qatar Foundation), Columbus Memorial Library (Organization of American States), Iraqi National Library and Archives, The John Carter Brown Library, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, The Library of Congress, National Central Library (Taiwan), National Diet Library (Japan), National Library and Archives of Egypt, National Library of Brazil, National Library of China, National Library of Israel, National Library of Russia, National Library of Serbia, National Library of Sweden, Russian State Library, St. Mark Coptic Library, Tetouan Asmir Association, UNESCO, United States National Archives and Records Administration, University Library in Bratislava, and the Yeltsin Presidential Library.
For more information regarding the World Digital Library project, please visit http://www.worlddigitallibrary.org/project/english/index.html