Digital Public Library of America, Session II

My three take-away points/topics from the second session, focusing on characteristics of public domain collections and open business models:

1) We have done a lot of work toward collection-building in a DPLA.  We need to learn from the experience of our own projects in the United States and those of others that are underway today.  Europeana is an especially important reference point, as are many other current and past major mass digitization projects.

2) We need to avoid going it alone.  A shared vision and collaboration is crucial.  The time for doing “our own thing” in our own way is over.  The DPLA needs to aim to establish a system or a platform that will support collaboration across a broad range of participants doing relevant work who are willing to work together.  We need to respect the identities of those who have developed or hold content.  And a distributed library system can be very resilient and diverse and strong as a result.  We need to allow lots of people to succeed via the DPLA.  (One might consider what needs to be centralized, such as indexing, while having the bulk of the system, content, and so forth distributed/federated.)

3) Even sticking with public domain materials won’t be cheap or easy.  While some say “scanning is the easy part,” there are still major costs and challenges given the scope of what we seek to accomplish — and we need a model to sustain the work over time.  Digitization is very expensive, and almost exclusively grant-funded today.  And it’s necessary to get to a critical mass of information for it to be useful to users, which we can only get done by collaboration (see 2, above).  There are best practices that we ought to learn from with respect to scanning — and all else that we have to do, such as metadata creation and collection, user interface, search and discovery, etc.  Despite the exciting progress across many projects to scan much information, a business model for any DPLA that can mix open and paid is extremely important to develop for sustainability purposes.

One person adds two additional key points (related to mine, but said another way) from this session, so I add them here:

a) We can’t anticipate uses.  Stay flexible.

b) We need to think about standards and metadata as a core part of the enterprise.

One thought on “Digital Public Library of America, Session II

  1. Pingback: A national digital library system for George Roper, Mount Vernon High School, and McAllen, Texas, please–not just the American elite | LibraryCity

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