You can choose from seven languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish) for viewing descriptions of the materials. Text on the records themselves isn’t translated.
On the home page, click on the map to see a sample of content from that region. Use the slider on the timeline at the bottom of the screen to change the era from which the samples are taken.
Links at the top of each page let you search the record descriptions or browse by place, time, topic, type of item or originating institution.
Images from Syria, where my great-grandparents were born, include a late-19th century panorama of Beirut—showing what it would’ve looked like about the time they lived there.
More examples of digitized content: centuries-old calligraphy from Iran, an 1851 John Tallis and Co. map of Brazil, the 1866 book The Gabrovo School and Its First Trustees from Bulgaria, and a photo of African-American major league baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson from the United States.
There’s some content from nearly every UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) member country. (On the country listings page, you can click to see content from each place.)
World Digital Library is hosted by the Library of Congress, with support from UNESCO and partner institutions around the world. Partners are seeking more materials and the means to digitize them, especially for the developing world.