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Inside the Quest to Put the World's Libraries Online

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Robert Darnton, Harvard University Library

Robert Darnton, director of the Harvard University Library, supports formation of a noncommercial public digital library.

Jodi Hilton for The New York Times

Making a vast, open, distributed network of books, records, and images available to anyone with an Internet link is the goal of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) through the establishment of a platform to bundle millions of materials into one user-friendly interface.

DPLA seeks to tackle the problem of massive scale needed for digitization by calibrating its network for growth and supplying a mechanism to guarantee the coordinated and standardized facilitation of future expansions and assimilations.

Rather than generating all raw material, DPLA's main task will be the support, management, and organization of that material, according to DPLA chairman John Palfrey. A DPLA prototype will be rolled out next April, and much of the initiative's traction stems from how it can rethink points of perceived failure within the Google Books project.

Internet Archive founder and DPLA steering committee member Brewster Kahle is worried the project might diverge from its intended distributive model to a more narrow and closed model through excessive centralization. "The idea is not to build a single library, but to get the library system to go digital," he says.

From The Atlantic 
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Abstracts Copyright © 2012 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA 


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