News

Press: “The Library of Utopia”

Posted by DPLA on April 25, 2012 in Press.

“Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society eagerly accepted Darnton’s challenge. It announced late in 2010 that it would coördinate an effort to build the DPLA and turn the Enlightenment dream into an Information Age reality. The project garnered seed money from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and attracted a steering committee that included a host of luminaries, including both Darnton and ­Courant as well as the chief librarian of Stanford University, Michael Keller, and the founder of the Internet Archive, Brewster Kahle. Named to chair the committee was John Palfrey, a young Harvard law professor and coauthor of influential books about the Internet. (Palfrey plans to leave Harvard on July 1 to become headmaster of Phillips Academy Andover, the Massachusetts prep school, but he says he will remain at the helm of the DPLA.)

“The Berkman Center set an ambitious goal of having the digital library begin operating, at least in some rudimentary form, by April of 2013. Over the past year and a half, the project has moved quickly on several fronts. It has held public meetings to promote the library, solicit ideas, and recruit volunteers. It has organized six working groups to wrestle with various challenges, from defining its audience to resolving technical issues. And it has conducted an open ‘beta sprint’ competition to gather innovative operating concepts and useful software from a wide range of organizations and individuals.

“When Judge Chin scuttled the Google deal last year, Darnton got a historic opportunity to cast the DPLA as the world’s best chance for a universal digital library. And indeed, it has gained broad support. Its plans have been praised by, among others, the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero, and it has forged important partnerships, including one with Europeana, a European Commission–sponsored digital library with a similar concept.”

From Nicholas Carr’s article in the May/June 2012 issue of MIT’s Technology Review, The Library of Utopia