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October 28, 2010
Not Just True but Tried: Darnton on the Prospects for a National Digital Library
"Despite the complexities, the fundamental idea of a National Digital Library (or NDL) is, at its core, straightforward. The NDL would make the cultural patrimony of this country freely available to all of its citizens," writes Robert Darnton, Harvard University Library Director and Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, on NYR Blog. A snip:
I don’t want to minimize those problems, but I think we should approach them with a can-do spirit. After all, we have acquired a great deal of experience with digitization. Every research library has developed digital projects, some of them on a very large scale. And libraries have cooperated with one another and with outside agencies in all sorts of initiatives that could be useful and instructive in the creation of a National Digital Library. Think of the HathiTrust, the Internet Archive, the Knowledge Commons Initiative, the California Digital Library, the Digital Library Federation, the National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program, and other nonprofit enterprises. They have opened many routes toward what could be a common goal.
Moreover, we can learn from the experience of other countries. Virtually every developed country has launched some kind of national digital library, and many developing countries are doing the same. They have worked through all sorts of problems and have arrived at viable solutions. If they have not come up with one model that fits countries of all sizes, they have demonstrated that the idea of a national digital library can be put into practice. It is not just true but tried.
See also Jennifer Howard's interview with Robert Darnton in One Step Closer to a National Digital Library (Chronicle of Higher Education). [JH]