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Libraries in 3 nations team up

The national libraries of Korea, China and Japan have signed an agreement to make their resources accessible to people in other countries and in different languages.

The agreement, called the China-Japan-Korea Digital Library Initiative, was signed by Mo Chul-min, director of the National Library of Korea; Zhang Furui, director of the National Library of China; and Makoto Nagao, director of the National Diet Library of Japan, on Tuesday in Gothenburg, Sweden, where the World Library and Information Congress, an annual event of library institutions, is under way.

“By sharing information and knowledge, the three countries in Northeast Asia are laying the foundation to overcome differing views of history and share their cultural and historic riches,” Mo said.

If a local user types Imjinwaeran, a series of Japanese invasions of Korea spanning, in Korean into the search box, it will link to digital copies of the documents held by the national libraries in China and Japan, the Korean library said in a press release.

The Korean library has some 390,000 digitalized books and 540,000 other major pieces of content. The Chinese library, which opened in digital form in September last year, has digitalized 720,000 books.

Japan has been relatively slow in digitalization but has been speeding up lately. Some 210,000 books are known to have been digitalized. Japan and China will begin a pilot project in October to share digital library resources.

The digital libraries initiative was conceived when Japan began research on digital archiving in 2007, and began to materialize with Korea’s proposal to share digital archives in a world library meeting in Italy last year.

Europe is already operating a similar program called Europeana, while the U.S. Library of Congress has joined hands with Unesco.

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