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Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Digital Public Library of America - Fruition Is Here


Did you realize that a national digital public library was being worked on? I didn’t. I had read about the concept and that it was a work that would be realized possibly in the future.

Guess what? They launched the Digital Public Library of America this past Thursday!

I Can’t seem to keep up with the magnitude and velocity of changes washing over us. But, then again, I am slowing down --- just a little :)  

One year ago, a group of professors, librarians, and futurists gathered in San Francisco to discuss how they would go about building a Digital Public Library of America.

With all the unimaginable problems and insufferable coordination that would be inherent in such an undertaking --- the launching of such an entity in just one year is a minor miracle!

Megan Geuss reports on The Digital Public Library of America in ARS Technica:


The Digital Public Library of America: adding gravitas to your Internet search

Not only a hub for books, the DPLA made an API so anyone can build a reading room


One year ago, a group of professors, librarians, and futurists gathered in San Francisco to
discuss how they would go about building a Digital Public Library of America. There were still many questions about the project, which had millions of dollars in charitable funding but hadn’t yet meted out a complete vision of its incarnation. The directors cited Europeana and Wikipedia as examples, but they weren’t sure how a digital library would tackle the problems unique to using published content in America. Despite the hurdles ahead, the founders of the DPLA promised at that conference that a live website would launch in April 2013, come hell or high water.

The founders of the DPLA made good on their promise this week. The organization launched a website on Thursday that allows users to browse more than two million archived books, images, records, and sounds. The content comes from the libraries of institutions like Harvard University, the Internet Archive, and the Boston, Chicago, and San Francisco Public Libraries. The DPLA also makes an API available to anyone who wants to add access to this treasure trove to a third party application.

Last year, Ars wrote about the challenges that the Digital Public Library was facing: “The organization must be a bank of documents, and a vast sea of metadata; an advocate for the people, and a partner with publishing houses; a way to make location irrelevant to library access without giving neighborhoods a reason to cut local library funding. And that will be hard to do.”

A lot of these conflicts are still being sorted out by the DPLA community. But the new website is clean and easy to use, and it undoubtedly represents the possibility of a bright future for the digital library. The challenge now is less about searching for an identity than it is getting everyone on board—from local libraries to big publishers.


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