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Stretching its promise to "Do no evil" to near breaking point Google is backing a plan from the Library of Congress to digitise and store the world's culture.

This is not a yoghurt factory but an attempt to extend the Library's existing project "American Memory" to the rest of the world.

The "World Digital Library" aims to do the same thing for sundry other nations - the only trouble is that at the moment, like baseball's "World Series", it is an all-American shop.

James Billington, librarian of Congress, said now that the US has rejoined Unesco maybe they could get wider support for the World Library.

Google is donating $3m to the project. This will look at technical issues such as likely resources needed as well as standards and metadata required to organise the collections.

The search giant has already digitised some 5,000 books from the Library of Congress collection as a pilot - it worked out processes for handling delicate manuscripts and developed specifications for the completed scans.

More details on Google's press release here and the opinion piece from James Billington in the Washington Post is available here.®

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