First national digital public library to go live

Kathy Stewart,

WASHINGTON – The nation’s first national digital public library will go live next week.

It’s called the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and it will give visitors access to digital material from the best libraries in the country.

Bradley Daigle, the director of Digital Curation Services and digital strategist for Special Collections for the University of Virginia, says the DPLA has been in the works for years.

“The Digital Public Library of America is a collaborative effort that’s launching on the 18th up in Boston,” he says.

UVA is one of the first libraries to become part of this effort and the concept will likely catch on with other library outlets, he says.

The idea is to make information accessible from public libraries, university libraries and even government organizations such as the Smithsonian and the National Archives. Daigle says UVA has more than 550,000 items in its digital repository – and that’s just one library.

“It’s big and we’re hoping it will get even bigger,” Daigle says, adding that getting the endeavor off the ground came with some resistance.

“Logistically it was very difficult, given copyright concerns, to make a lot of digital materials freely available,” he says.

The project was started by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. The DPLA will launch April 18 and 19.

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