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www.wdl.org. World Digital Library Partner Meeting Washington, DC December 5, 2012 Content Selection: Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going John Van Oudenaren Director, WDL. Content Selection Guidelines and Other Factors Influencing Selection Results to Date

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World Digital Library Partner Meeting

Washington, DC

December 5, 2012

Content Selection:

Where We’ve Been, Where We Are, and Where We Are Going

John Van Oudenaren

Director, WDL


Content Selection Guidelines and Other Factors Influencing Selection

Results to Date

Future Directions



Working Group Committee Meetings Selection

Paris, October 2007

Cairo, January 2009

Participants from:









United States

Content Selection Guidelines

Content Selection Guidelines, January 2009


Regional and Functional Selection

Subcommittees/Working Groups

Advisory Committee on Arabic and Islamic Scientific Manuscripts(KAUST)

London, June 2008

London, October 2008

Chinese-Language Content Working Group

Washington, December 2009

Mesoamerican Codices

Mexico City, May 2010

Regional and functional subcommittees working groups
Regional and Functional Selection Subcommittees/Working Groups

Arab Peninsula Regional Group(Qatar Foundation/Qatar National Library)

Doha, December 2010

Doha, February 2012

Conference of Partners and Prospective Partners

from the Former Soviet Union(Carnegie Corporation of New York)

Washington, June 2010


Examples of Recommendations Selection

  • Mesoamerican Codices

    • Comprehensive (all significant pre- and post-Columbian documents extant in Mexico, Europe, the United States and Canada)

  • Arabic and Islamic Scientific Manuscripts

    • - Astronomy and especially the works of al-Sūfī, ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn ‘Umar (d. 986), Suwār al-kawākib (Book of the constellations of the fixed stars)

    • - Mechanical devices

    • - Illustrated geographies with maps

Examples of recommendations
Examples of Recommendations Selection


  • Archival materials and architectural design on Yuan Ming Yuan, the Garden of Perfect Brightness destroyed in 1860 and in 1900 during the Boxer uprising

    - Taiping printed books (Books printed during the Taiping Kingdom, 1851-1864)

    - Astronomy and divination

    - Pre-1900 Chinese maps

    - Rare books from the Song Dynasty, 960-1279 AD

    - Jesuit publications (Western works translated into Chinese) from the 16th and 17th Centuries

  • Ming Dynasty block-printed works with illustrations,

    1368-1644 AD


Other Selection Factors Influencing Selection

  • Some content about every country in the world

  • Content from as many participating partner institutions as possible

  • Priority for collections and items on the UNESCO

  • Memory of the World register

  • Responses to user feedback

  • Institutional and curatorial discretion

  • Areas of concentration


Areas of Concentration Selection

Designated in 2011 Business Plan

Arabic scientific manuscripts

Mesoamerican codices

Chinese rare books, maps, and manuscripts

Treasures from Medieval and Renaissance Europe

Bibles and Qur’ans (other sacred texts)

Early photographic surveys of empires


Results to Date Selection

89institutions in 46countries have content on the WDL

10-12 institutions to be added in the next few months

6,588items comprising 319,296 images on www.wdl.org

Some content about all UN member countries:

Highest: Russian Federation (1799)

Lowest: Andorra, Chad, Comoros, Cyprus, Fiji, Maldives, Monaco, San Marino, Swaziland, Tonga, Vanuatu (1)

Content in 91 languages

Results to date
Results to Date Selection

Top languages by number of items:

  • Spanish (1137)

  • English (549)

  • Arabic (395)

  • German (328)

  • Russian (297)

  • French (267)

  • Chinese (219)

  • Latin (194)

  • Japanese (162)

  • Portuguese (104)

Results to date1
Results to Date Selection

Endangered and lesser-known languages








Results to date2
Results to Date Selection

Areas of concentration: Mesoamerican Codices

John Carter Brown Library, U.S.

Medicea Laurenziana Library, Italy

Library of Congress, U.S.

Center for the Study of the History of Mexico, Mexico

National Institute of Anthropology and History INAH, Mexico

University of Texas Libraries, U.S.

National Library of Spain

General Archive of the Nation, Mexico

Uppsala University Library, Sweden

Results to date3
Results to Date Selection

Areas of concentration: Arabic Scientific Manuscripts

Library of Congress

National Library and Archives of Egypt

Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Qatar National Library

Mamma Haidara Commemorative Library

University Library in Bratislava

Yale University Library

National Library of Spain

Results to date4
Results to Date Selection

Significant amounts of original bibliographic and scholarly research

  • European medieval and Renaissance treasures

  • Chinese rare books

  • Early photographic surveys of empires

  • Arabic scientific manuscripts


Future Directions Selection

  • Should we revise/update the content selection guidelines?

  • What is missing?

  • What do users want?

  • What are the gaps and imbalances?

  • What role for committees and subcommittees?

  • How can we better exploit the intellectual added value (selection, metadata, description, translation)

  • Other ideas and suggestions


www.wdl.org Selection