The Digital Public Library of America ’s executive director Dan Cohen outlined three goals for the new library when it debuted last April: “to be an easy to-use portal and virtual entry-way to America’s digitized cultural heritage, as well as an online catalogue organizing the collections by time, location, format, and topic; to be a platform for applications developers to build on, adding tools for access and discovery; and finally to serve as a community and innovative institution for advocating free, public access to reading and research in the 21st century.” In this context it’s probably better to focus on the library’s function as information resource and query bank, rather than as the place you’d go to borrow a book. This YouTube video gives an introduction:

On October 30–31, 2013, The New York Review of Books held a conference under the title Power, Privacy & the Internet at Scandinavia House in New York City. It consisted of five hour-long sessions, of which this link will take you to one, featuring Robert Darnton and Anthony Grafton. (If you want to follow the whole conference, click on the link at the right hand side of the SoundCloud page (the one with the title Power Privacy & the Internet.) These are only audio files: the fact that the speakers keep referring to exhibits doesn’t really affect one’s understanding. In the session, “The Internet, the Book, the University and the Library” Professor Darnton starts off with a brief history of libraries and library access before describing progress on the DPLA.

Here now from Publishers Weekly of 10 March 2014 is Michael Kelley’s report on one year’s activity at DPLA. There are a couple of interesting comments about making books available – but that remains an aim rather than a reality. As I say: a place to go to get an answer, rather than to read a book.