INTRODUCTION

Major progress has been made towards increasing primary school enrolment rates. Still, 617 million children and adolescents worldwide are unable to read, despite most of them having attended school for several years. One reason for this is that many do not have access to quality early grade reading resources in a language they understand.

The goal of the Global Book Alliance is therefore to provide access to free, high-quality, early grade reading resources in languages that children use and understand. As a flagship activity within the Global Book Alliance, the Global Digital Library (GDL) has been developed to increase the availability of high-quality reading resources in underserved languages worldwide. “Underserved languages” refer to languages where there is currently a lack of quality early grade reading resources. “Reading resources” refer primarily to reading instruction books and storybooks for leisure reading, but the GDL will also link to some more interactive resources, such as literacy games.

WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THE GLOBAL DIGITAL LIBRARY?

The GDL collects existing high quality open educational reading resources, and makes them available on web, mobile and for print. Tye GDL currently offers resources in 43 languages, and by end 2020 the goal is to provide 100 languages.

The platform also facilitates translation and localization of GDL-resources to more than 300 languages.

WHO CAN USE THE GLOBAL DIGITAL LIBRARY?

The GDL is aimed at many different types of users and the platform is open for everyone. Intended users include ministries of education, school managers, teachers, donor agencies and their implementing partners, international and national non-governmental organizations, local publishers, digital distributors and content providers, and households in developing countries.

WHO IS BEHIND THE GLOBAL DIGITAL LIBRARY?

The GDL-platform is a collaborative endeavor which will require involvement from a broad spectrum of stakeholders in order to be truly successful and widely used. It is being built based on existing quality learning resources provided from a variety of initiatives. The content pool will expand over time through discovery and sharing of more existing quality content, translations and localizations of the platform’s content, as well as additions of newly created content. The Platform will be designed both for direct use by a variety of user groups and for integration with existing initiatives in the field.

The Global Digital Library is part of The Global Book Alliance, an international effort involving multiple stakeholders working to transform book development, procurement and distribution to ensure that no child is without books. The mission of the Global Book Alliance is to guarantee that children everywhere have the books and learning materials they need to learn to read and read to learn.

The idea to develop a Global Digital Library for reading resources came from All Children Reading: a Grand Challenge for Development (ACR) in 2014. ACR and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) subsequently conducted joint feasibility work in 2015 and 2016, which outlined important parameters for such a project.

The GDL-platform is being developed and will initially be operated by the Norwegian Digital Learning Arena (NDLA), based on NDLA’s open source digital infrastructure. The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) has the overall project management responsibility.

GDL-content is currently being provided by the following initiatives and organizations; BookdashAsia Foundation’s Let’s ReadStoryweaverAfrican Storybook ProjectUSAID missions, All Children Reading: a Grand Challenge for Development, URC and the Global Reading Network. GDL’s open source-digital infrastructure has so far been provided by NDLA and the New York Public Library.

A GDL advisory group provides technical advice and expert input for the project implementation. The group is composed by representatives from the following organizations; All Children Reading: a Grand Challenge for Development, UNESCO, The Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF, the Global Book Alliance, Benetech, Storyweaver, Creative Commons, and the GSMA. In addition, a range of institutions and individuals have provided and are providing invaluable input.

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