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Uganda joins World Digital Library

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American ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier is received by staff at the National Library of Uganda (NLU) where he launched the World Digital Library project and officially handed over the Scan Centre. Alan Shonubi, (in spectacles) the chairman of NLU looks on. Photo/MORGAN MBABAZI

American ambassador to Uganda Jerry Lanier is received by staff at the National Library of Uganda (NLU) where he launched the World Digital Library project and officially handed over the Scan Centre. Alan Shonubi, (in spectacles) the chairman of NLU looks on. Photo/MORGAN MBABAZI 

By ESTHER OPADE

Posted  Monday, April 5   2010 at  00:00
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Finally, Uganda joins the World Digital Library (WDL) project after receiving equipment worth Ush600 million ($300,000) from Carnegie Corporation of New York and Ush6 billion ($3 million) from Google.

During the handover of the equipment, the National Library of Uganda (NLU) director Gertrude Kayaga Mulindwa, said WDL is intended to promote international and inter-cultural understanding mainly among young people.

“It will also be used to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars and general audiences, as well as build capacity in partner institutions in a bid to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.

It will also capture the interest and imagination of users so they can learn more about their country.

“Uganda, which has a rich culture, is joining other nations in making items it considers to be of great historical value accessible to the rest of the world,” said Ms Mulindwa.

Dr Alan Shonubi, the chairperson of NLU Board said that libraries are not taken seriously in Africa yet they are becoming important globally and are crucial to the attainment of Millennium development goals.

WDL is an Internet-based source of information initiated by the Librarian of Congress, James Billington and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria Egypt, the National Library of Brazil, the National Library of Egypt, the National Library of Russia and the Russian State Library partly contributed to the development of the WDL.

Unlike other forms of information storage the WDL will only store information the country regards as unique.

“It focuses on major primary information materials such as manuscripts, maps, rare books, sounds recordings, films, prints, photographs and architectural drawings all in their original forms and languages,” said Ms Mulindwa.

Different librarians said the system will enable the country expose its treasures to the world.

Further, since information institutions can digitise vital documents the country will no longer lose or damage its unique information as a management unit has been established at the NLU.

Ms Mulindwa said Uganda urgently needed to develop expertise in library, archival and museum work in ICT, law and other fields in a bid to get all the important information and treasures the country needed to share with the world.

Launched last year at Unesco in Paris, NLU signed an agreement with the Library of Congress that would see it participate in the WDL project.

This paved the way for the delivery of equipment in January and the setting up of the Digital Scan Centre at the NLU.

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