In October 2010, Robert Darnton, the historian and university librarian at Harvard, talked to Wired Campus about the possibility of building what was then being described as a National Digital Library. Since then, Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, with money from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, has stepped into the role of coordinating plans for what’s now being designated a Digital Public Library of America.
The planning has a public component as well: The Berkman Center has set up a wiki to which anyone can contribute. “We very much hope that this wiki will be the embodiment of a consensus-based and peer-produced approach,” the center notes on the welcome page.
The wiki lays out major topics related to the proposed DPLA project: content and scope (which includes a handy roundup of digitizing projects in the United States and abroad), governance and business models, legal and technical issues. It’s early days, but to get a sense of how the conversation’s shaping up, check out the most active pages on the wiki. (It’s also instructive to poke around the least-revised pages so far.)
You can also join a public e-mail list dedicated to the discussion and run by the Berkman Center. Very recently established, it hasn’t yet moved much beyond the meet-and-greet stage, but it’s already populated with a lot of librarians and others who have front-lines experience with digitizing content. Expect to see some well-informed discussion there and more formal announcements this spring about what happens next at the organizational level.
What do you think about a National Digital Library? Thoughts? Comments?