POST: The Digital Public Library of America: Details, the Librarian Response and the Future 1

Micah Vandegrift, Scholarly Communication Librarian at Florida State University Library, discusses the recently-launched Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and its implications for librarians and libraries in general, providing a helpful overview of the project and its aims and stakeholders. Vandegrift clarifies that “DPLA is not a public library, a content repository, or a threat to traditional library services,” and speculates why DPLA has generated little response from large library organizations such as the American Library Association and OCLC. The article outlines four things that “librarians want … from DPLA: Advocacy, Inclusion, Investment and Clarity.” Vandegrift ends with a call for librarians to invest in the DPLA:

… I’d like to propose that we take them at their word and take ownership of this as a realistic, collaborative, inclusive, “public” opportunity to showcase one aspect of value for libraries in a digital world. Considering the practical implications of a national digital library for our daily work, we should contribute to the conversation and development of the platform, the portal and the partnerships that define the DPLA. If it is successful, DPLA could be a national treasure which brings to light the value and essential qualities of our beloved organizations, as well as the physical collections and intellectual issues that we labor on daily (copyright, fair use, information literacy, access). Even if we don’t each have the time to get personally involved, we ought to articulate the wide-ranging possibilities and benefits of such an idealistic enterprise to public schools, to higher education, and to citizenship and government. In fighting for the ideals on an ambitious project like DPLA, we are fighting for our own place in the information economy.

This post was produced through a cooperation between Kate Pitcher and Amy Wickner (Editors-at-Large for the week), Zach Coble (dh+lib review editor for the week), and Sarah Potvin and Roxanne Shirazi (site editors).

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