The Digital Public Library of America is launching on April 18-19 in Boston. This huge and long-awaited project is a cooperative non-profit venture undertaken by libraries, museums and other institutions from across the country, aggregating access to digitized content and making it all easily searchable and accessible. Their Elements page gives a good idea of method and scope – free and open source code, freely available and re-usable metadata, all media from written record (printed and digital) to visual and audiovisual, tools and services to facilitate public access and new ideas for application and use, and involvement of the public “in all aspects of its design, development, deployment, maintenance, and support.” Great people involved, too; see Board of Directors and Steering Committee.
A recent article, How the Digital Public Library of America hopes to build a real public commons, describes how the DPLA is different from Google Books:
Unlike Google Books, the DPLA doesn’t hoover up institutions’ documents to be stored on its own servers. Its primary goal is to support coordinate scanning efforts by each of its partner institutions, and to act as a central search engine and metadata repository. Most of these libraries and museums have been slowly scanning and cataloguing their collections for years; the DPLA helps make those materials aggregatable and interoperable. At least initially, it’s not nearly as focused on printed books as Google has been, but rather gathers an eclectic mix of texts, photos, data, and art, especially rare documents. It also provides a sophisticated frontend portal for discovery and research.
Thanks for the tip, Gene!