Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Digital Public Library of America Has Arrived | The Scholarly Kitchen

English: Illustration of the final chase of Mo...
English: Illustration of the final chase of Moby-Dick. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Digital Public Library of America has just launched and can be found at the annoyingly unconventional URL http://dp.la. That’s the only criticism I have to make of it, the funny domain name. Otherwise it’s an impressive performance. I have just begun to browse it and expect that I will come to use it regularly. It’s a bit like Wikipedia in that respect — always present in the background when you need it and welcome for precisely that reason.

There will be endless commentary about DPLA, so my remarks here are simply to call attention to the project and to encourage people to check it out. It’s a moving target — what it is today will be significantly different in 6 months. Heaven only knows what it will look like in 5 years.

I have been watching the project since it was first conceived and I subscribed to several of the mailing lists for the working groups. There has always been a gap, at least in my opinion, between some of the lofty — and incendiary — aspirations of the project and the actual nuts-and-bolts work to get it up and running. The “information wants to be free” crowd has embraced DPLA, and that’s unfortunate. (There are many subgroups within the world of free information advocates.) But the actual service that is available right now is very useful, if limited by the current scope of its collections. I say “current scope” as though I actually knew what that scope is. Unlike in a physical library, you just can’t tell by digging into the search tool just how large DPLA is. You will not see documents that you don’t specifically request, so what you do see is the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Over time the amount of ice below the surface is no doubt going to grow beyond human measure. read more....
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