The Global Digital Library

Although there have been major strides in education enrolment over the past 15 years, about 250 million children of primary school age are still unable to recognize basic letters and numbers. Worryingly, 130 million of these children attend 4 years or more of school and still leave without basic foundational skills.

Evidence supports the role of books in improving learning and reading acquisition. Over the past few decades, donors, including bilateral organizations and private foundations, have therefore provided millions of dollars in funding and programmatic support to improve the provision and usage of books. Despite these efforts, millions of children lack access to reading books and textbooks in the languages they speak and understand.

The Global Digital Library will expand access to mother tongue (MT) content by providing openly licensed, downloadable materials that allow sharing, electronic use and large scale printing, as well as linking to other sources for those materials.

The GDL will be a reliable source for high-quality MT books and other learning resources. This reliable supply, in concert with outreach, advocacy, and training could increase the use of MT books in schools and communities and improve literacy outcomes worldwide. The GDL will be a web-based platform. It will initially facilitate the identification of and access to high-quality, early grade reading educational materials in MT languages, whereas other types of learning resources are expected to be included later. The GDL content will be accessible in a print ready format as well as other relevant formats for web and mobile platforms.

Open licenses

The GDL platform will hold digital copies of Creative Commons or otherwise openly licensed, publicly accessible materials in print-ready formats. The primary licenses for the GDL will be CC BY and CC BY-SA. These licenses drive innovation and creativity, including commercial reuse. They also support the overall goal of sharing, translation and re-contextualization of early grade reading educational materials, open textbooks and other open educational resources.

Target audience

The target audiences for the GDL include ministries of education, school managers, teachers, donor agencies and their implementing partners, international and national non-governmental organizations, local publishers and households in developing countries. The platform will be open for all users, including end users with access to mobile devices and internet. The GDL’s initial purpose is to support access to early-grade reading materials in children’s mother tongues. Other types of learning resources are expected to be included at a later stage.

Continuous quality assurance

The GDL will be set up to ensure continuous quality assurance and «guiding» of content providers, technology developers, and other contributors. In establishing the GDL, the project team will extract a number of MT books from existing digital libraries. In this process it will be ensured that metadata are accurate and that GDL quality assurance support is provided.