Report on west coast Digital Public Library of America meeting
May 1, 2012 | 10:55 am
By Paul Biba
From Publishers Weekly. More in the article:
On April 27, DPLA West brought together over 400 librarians, technologists, public policy advocates, and a very small number of publishers at the Internet Archive in San Francisco to discuss the progress of the most visible effort yet to forge a common digital library for both Americans and the world: the nascent Digital Public Library of America. The best thing about the meeting, the second major public gathering of the DPLA, was that it was full of hope and aspirations. Of course, that was also the worst thing about the DPLA meeting, too.Born of a vision to deliver unparalleled resources to public view, DPLA is struggling—albeit with some success—to define a development path that will deliver a working prototype by April 2013, a grant-imposed deadline in exchange for a more than $5 million dollar commitment from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Arcadia Fund, as well as considerable volunteer staff time. Something is sure to be developed by then, but what that is something is will be evaluated in light of priorities that are only now emerging.Blessed with brilliant and dedicated staff at Havard’s Berkman Center, the DPLA was also saddled at birth with no obvious governance, and only a loose set of “workstreams,” committees that lack the means to coordinate goals or activities. It has an executive director, John Palfrey, who is moving from Harvard to a new job as the headmaster of the Phillips Academy; a spokesperson in Robert Darnton who has little connection with the running of the project; a steering committee that is more a loose set of stakeholders than a functioning board; and a fundamental lack of articulation between the goals of high-end research universities, like Harvard, archival repositories, such as HathiTrust and the Internet Archive, and the public library system. And yet, DPLA might still emerge as something amazing.