National libraries and the U.N. education agency on April 21 put some of humanity's earliest written works online. The antiquities range from ancient Chinese oracle bones that might be more than 3,000 years old to the first extant European map of the New World, dating back nearly 450 years.

U.S. Librarian of Congress James Billington said the idea behind the World Digital Library is not to compete with Google or Wikipedia but to pique young readers' interest -- and get them reading books.

"You have to go back to books," Billington said in an interview in Paris, where the project was launched at UNESCO's headquarters. "These


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