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Tuesday, 14th December 2010

Harvard's Berkman Center Announces Research/Planning Initiative for a "Digital Public Library of America"

A National Digital Public Library that Harvard Library Director, Professor Robert Darnton has been talking and writing about for many months and others (for example, TeleRead Founder David Rothman have been talking and writing about for years) will soon be the topic of a research and planning initiative that will be hosted by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at the Harvard University Law School.

From the Berkman Center Web Site:

With funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Berkman will convene a large and diverse group of stakeholders in a planning program to define the scope, architecture, costs and administration for a proposed Digital Public Library of America.

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Planning activities will be guided by a Steering Committee of library and foundation leaders, which promises to announce a full slate of activities in early 2011. The Committee plans to bring together representatives from the educational community, public and research libraries, cultural organizations, state and local government, publishers, authors, and private industry in a series of meetings and workshops to examine strategies for improving public access to comprehensive online resources.

One meeting is already in the works: David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States of America, has offered to host a plenary meeting that will assemble stakeholders in early summer 2011. Ferriero said, “It is exciting to contemplate a future where the cultural heritage of our country is available at your fingertips. It is, therefore, important to bring together all interested parties to create a vision of that future.“ Three major federal cultural institutions -- Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian Institution -- are already discussing a collaborative effort to build and make accessible a digital collection of materials from their collections.

In addition to the plenary meeting, an intensive slate of workshops will be held, running in five parallel tracks --- legal, content, technical, financial and governance --- to build consensus for next steps in each area.

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Steering Committee members include:

Paul Courant, Harold T. Shapiro Professor of Public Policy and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan

Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library

Charles Henry, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

Michael A. Keller, Ida M. Green University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources at Stanford
University

Carl Malamud, President, Public.Resource.Org

Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress

Maura Marx, Berkman Center Fellow and Executive Director, Knowledge Commons

Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan University Professor at the University of Virginia

Donald Waters, Program Officer for Scholarly Communications and Information Technology at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

John Palfrey, Faculty Co-Director at the Berkman Center; Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, will lead the Steering Committee.

Palfrey commented, "There is great promise in the digital future for libraries, but we need to work in coordinated fashion across many institutions to shape it in a way that is in the public interest. We are excited about creating a big tent in which many leaders can work together to create the design for a Digital Public Library of America."

Quick Comment: Perhaps what's most interesting about the announcement and specifically the list of steering committee members are a few names that are not on the list:

1. Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive
2. Peter Brantley, Internet Archive
3. Clifford Lynch, Coalition For Networked Information (CNI)
4. No One from the Public Library Community

See Also: Harvard University Library Director Robert Darnton Asks If We Can Create a National Digital Library in the U.S. (via ResourceShelf)

See Also: More Comments from Robert Darnton About Building a National Digital Library (via ResourceShelf)

See Also: David Rothman On “Why We Can’t Afford Not to Create a Well-Stocked National Digital Library System” (via ResourceShelf)

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