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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A National Digital Public Library

An article in the Chronicle last week notes that plans have been underway for some time to develop a national digital public library. The goal of the project is to, "assemble the collections of archives, museums, and universities across the country."

In the last year, planning has apparently become more serious, with a target date of April 2013 to have it "up and running." It appears that there is cooperation among a number of organizations to provide funding AND to provide access to a variety of digital collections, with Sloan and Arcadia currently serving as the primary funding sources.

It's an intriguing idea, and of course, entirely possible technologically. Many challenges exist, however, as shared by Doron Weber, vice president for programs at the Sloan foundation:

"There's a massive amount of physical, logistical meetings that have to take place in the next 18 months," he said. It will be essential to get firm commitments from institutions about what they're willing to make part of the library. "Right now we have phenomenal support from most of the institutions in the country," he said. "I think it's always hard when you have to get very specific about what collections are in and what collections are out."

While the Chronicle article is password protected, there are several articles online about the concept, as well as a Wiki that houses planning information ( and the DPLA page (

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