Library and ed leaders gather to discuss the future of digital access at DPLA Open Board + Community Meeting

By DPLA, January 19, 2022.

On Monday, January 10, DPLA hosted our quarterly Open Board + Community meeting. We were pleased to host a group of library and education leaders who share how they’re thinking about the future of digital access. California State Librarian Greg Lucas discussed how the Golden State has prioritized the availability of digital resources even as physical library locations have reopened, as well as efforts to better connect Californians to the digital world via their local libraries and ensure people have not just access, but the training in the use of new technologies. Michele Kimpton, Senior Director of The Palace Project at Lyrasis, shared how Palace is working to help libraries deliver access to knowledge digitally and reach younger generations, who are increasingly consuming and creating information in a digital format. Alan Inouye, Senior Director of Public Policy and Government Relations for ALA, spoke about the opportunity the pandemic has created to reimagine library offerings and the challenges of thinking about how best to utilize physical library spaces moving forward. Alan also shared lessons learned from the ongoing push for state legislation to protect the rights of libraries to license content on reasonable terms. And Jean-Claude Brizard, President and CEO of Digital Promise, highlighted the potential of hybrid learning and the urgency of addressing the gaps that remain in affordability, availability, and access to technology, as well as supporting school staff as they integrate technology into curricula. 

I facilitated the conversation that followed, during which we further discussed both the status and critical need for legislative efforts to ensure libraries’ ability to provide the public with access to a broad range of digital resources and the continuing urgency of libraries’ role in helping Americans access basic services like healthcare. At the close of the meeting, Bob Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian at Harvard University and a DPLA founder asked us to consider a broader perspective on access. “What are the possibilities of getting beyond the restrictions imposed by copyright law?” he asked, “Is a pragmatic approach…adequate?”

On behalf of DPLA’s board and staff, I’d like to thank Alan, Greg, Jean-Claude, Michele, and everyone who joined us for this conversation. As a board, the perspectives surfaced through conversations like the one we hosted Monday are helpful to us as we continue to shape and direct DPLA’s efforts to ensure equitable access to knowledge for all, and the discussion in our subsequent closed session was driven by what we heard from the community. Over the next few months, we plan to take up questions like the one posed by Bob and continue to look for the best ways for DPLA to support libraries and librarians.

You can watch a video of the event here.


Felton Thomas

President and CEO, Cleveland Public Library

DPLA board member

DPLA’s next Open Board + Community Meeting will be held on April 12, 2022 at 2pm ET. Please sign up here for updates. We also hope you’ll join us on Wednesday, January 19, at 1 pm ET, for the first in a series of webinars DPLA is presenting with COSLA (Chief Officers of State Library Agencies) and ReadersFirst, Collaborating for Access: Licensing Models that Benefit Readers, Libraries, and Publishers. We’ll hear from library leaders and publishers, including Michael Blackwell, Director of St. Mary’s County Library and of ReadersFirst; Mallori Bontrager Digital Services Manager at Independent Publishers Group; Charles A. Sherrill, Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist; Adam Silverman, Senior Director, Digital Business Development at HarperCollins Publishers; and Kelvin Watson, Executive Director of the  Las Vegas – Clark County Library District and DPLA board member. Please register here.