Here is a fantastic new resource, the World Digital Library , which just launched in April 2009. It makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from cultures around the world, and includes manuscripts, maps, books, musical scores, recordings, films, prints, and photographs. You can browse by place, time, topic, type of item, or institution. The Library was developed by a team at the U.S. Library of Congress, with contributions by national libraries and with the support of UNESCO, companies and private foundations. (Google contributed $3 million.)
More from the About page:
U.S. Librarian of Congress James H. Billington proposed the establishment of the WDL in a speech to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in June 2005. The basic idea was to create an Internet-based, easily-accessible collection of the world’s cultural riches that would tell the stories and highlight the achievements of all countries and cultures, thereby promoting cross-cultural awareness and understanding. UNESCO welcomed the idea as a contribution toward fulfilling UNESCO’s strategic objectives, which include promoting knowledge societies, building capacity in developing countries, and promoting cultural diversity on the Web. UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura designated UNESCO’s Directorate for Communication and Information, led by Dr. Abdul Waheed Khan, to work with the Library of Congress to develop the project.