Here is a question for you: what do you get when you take the basic idea of Google Books and then wed it to the US public library system? Answer: the Digital Public Library of America.
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a project to make the holdings of America’s research libraries, archives, and museums available to all Americans, and eventually to everyone in the world, online and free of charge. Quoting from Robert Darnton’s article for The New York Review for Books, The National Digital Public Library Is Launched at http://goo.gl/G1Ir6, “Thanks to the Internet and a pervasive if imperfect system of education, we now can realize the dream of Jefferson and Franklin. We have the technological and economic resources to make all the collections of all our libraries accessible to all our fellow citizens—and to everyone everywhere with access to the World Wide Web. That is the mission of the DPLA.”
The DPLA plans to provide a centralized portal to a decentralized network of digital media from libraries, museums, universities, archives, and other local, regional, and national collections. One way to look at the DPLA is to consider it to be an "umbrella organization" that helps coordinate the efforts of an alliance of independent institutions. The items available via the DPLA will be accessible free of charge. If DPLA becomes what its founders planned, a future researcher or genealogist will be able to put a search term into the library's one web site and get results from all of the collections. This will be one-stop shopping research.
Highly-visible libraries that have already joined the organization include the New York Public Library (NYPL), the Kentucky Digital Library (from the University of Kentucky), Digital Library of Georgia, Minnesota Digital Library, Mountain West Digital Library (Utah, Nevada and Arizona), South Carolina Digital Library and the Digital Commonwealth (Massachusetts). Harvard University also will initially provide select digitized special collections to the DPLA.
On April 18-19, 2013, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will celebrate the groundbreaking work of hundreds of librarians, innovators, and other dedicated volunteers in the collective effort to build the first national digital library. You are invited to join the celebration at the Boston Public Library for this historic event.
Convened by the DPLA Secretariat at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society and co-hosted by the Boston Public Library, the two-day DPLA Launch will include a brief working day on Thursday, April 18th, followed by a formal reception featuring presentations and a series of interactive exhibits showcasing content from our many partners, including the Digital Hubs and Europeana. On Friday, April 19th, the DPLA will convene a focused half-day plenary meeting highlighting the DPLA’s progress and potential.
You can learn more about the Digital Public Library of America at http://dp.la/. Now THAT is a short URL!