(Developed by the Content Selection Working Group at the National Library and Archives of Egypt, January 13-15, 2009)
The WDL Content Selection Working Group developed a selection philosophy and general guidelines for content selection.
In addition to developing the selection philosophy and guidelines, the group discussed a number of general issues, including the role of specialized content-selection subcommittees for particular themes or countries, inclusion of archival collections, and treatment of three-dimensional materials. The group agreed that while specialized committees might be useful in some areas (e.g., the committee on Arabic scientific manuscripts sponsored by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), they were not needed for most countries, and would only add work and complexity. Partner institutions and the WDL Selection Committee could look to existing lists, e.g., Memory of the World, rather than expend resources on convening new committees.
The committee acknowledged the importance of including materials from archives in the WDL, but it was noted archives are different from libraries and certain practical and policy issues needed to be addressed to facilitate the inclusion of archival materials in the WDL. The group agreed that it would be useful to start with a concrete case, and welcomed the suggestion by Dr. Hilal to begin a sub-project aimed at including parts of the NLAE collection of Ottoman property deeds (on the Memory of the World list) in the WDL after the April 2009 public launch.
Three-dimensional objects also were discussed, and it was agreed that a practical experiment with inclusion of 3-D materials at some point would be useful, and would require partnering with institutions (e.g., CultNat) that have extensive experience in this area.
The participants thanked Dr. Hilal and the staff of the National Library and Archives of Egypt for their warm hospitality in Cairo and for hosting the meeting.
I. Selection Philosophy
The World Digital Library (WDL) presents sources for understanding the history of humanity. The following points will guide how partners and the WDL will approach the selection of sources that will present the history of humanity to the worldwide audience through the WDL.
Sources for the History of Humanity:
Partner institutions are encouraged to select items or collections of items for inclusion in the WDL that best present their respective national cultures. Categories of items are indicated in the accompanying list.
In addition to presenting their national cultures, partner institutions are encouraged to contribute to the WDL collections or items from their holdings that relate to the history and culture of other countries.
The WDL Content Selection Committee may designate selected, high-profile subjects for treatment in an international comparative perspective, e.g., “the history of writing,” and call for contributions from partner institutions that relate to these subjects.
Partner institutions are especially invited to contribute to the WDL items or collections from their holdings that are included in the Memory of the World Registry.
WDL selection guidelines may be reviewed and enhanced over time, with particular reference to the "Memory of the World" guidelines.
Prior to final selection, partner institutions are requested to submit information, on a standard template to be provided by the WDL, describing the collection of material proposed for submission, its importance, size, intellectual property status, and so forth.
II. General Guidelines for Content Selection
Key historical documents; illuminated and illustrated manuscripts; (e.g., pre-print materials); examples of calligraphy in all scripts; sacred texts and other religious texts; personal diaries and letters of general interest.
Rare and significant volumes of history, culture, literature, science, and other topics, in all languages. Books that complement special format materials (e.g., books that explain manuscripts or photographs).
Other Printed Materials
Pamphlets and ephemera that are of interest to scholars (e.g., railroad and shipping timetables, early advertisements and directories) and that help to convey a sense of popular culture and everyday life.
Hand-drawn maps by explorers; early printed maps; printed maps that played significant roles in shaping national consciousness in different countries; maps by indigenous peoples or that show geographic knowledge obtained from indigenous peoples; topical maps showing industry, transportation, ethnographic and linguistic distribution.
Printed pictorial materials from the pre-photographic era, for example, posters associated with important personalities, events and social, cultural, economic, scientific, and technological developments.
Collections that document everyday life, buildings, and infrastructure; albums (published or unpublished) created for special occasions such as visits and anniversaries; collections owned or created by important historical personages. Images of monuments that have been included in national registers as national treasures. Images of unique natural monuments, national parks, and notable events.
Early films; documentary clips that show events and individuals of historic importance.
Recordings of important historical and cultural events, developments, and oral history (e.g., intangible heritage).