DPLA – 3 Issues

I wanted to respond to the three issues brought up in our discussion prompt.

First, funding.  When I first heard of the DPLA how to pay for the project was my first question as well.  Many of the librarians currently working on the project hold positions at other libraries.  I wonder how long those libraries will continue to pay them to work on something not directly related to their own library.  It may sound abhorrent to some but I believe to be a long-term sustainable project the DPLA will have to employ its own people who answer only to the organization.  And this will mean funding.  The reason we have physical public libraries is because taxpayers (sometimes) support them.  As a national organization DPLA will have a national base to request funding.  There are a few different options here; they could follow the model of public television or public radio and request funds.  Or they could bite the bullet and charge people a dollar or two for membership.  Of course, libraries could offer it to their patrons for free because they could pay a library access fee.  I just do not see how to get around the issue of how much this system will cost.

Second, scope:  For a first step I would love to see the DPLA simply be a place where many smaller digital collections could be found in one place.  I think it would be a major step forward for digital libraries if there were more standards in place making information easier to find.  If a small digital library wanted to be included in the DPLA they’d have to meet a list of standards and then the DPLA could be the portal for searching.  Importantly because of the standards information would be easier to find and connect.  Yes, someday they may need to grow into something larger but right now having a one-stop-shop of trusted information (after all, it was provided by libraries) would be a huge leap forward.

Third, branding:  I was a bit shocked to find that some public libraries were worried about losing funding due to the DPLA, it was an issue I had never considered.  I believe that if government wants to cut funding for libraries they will always find a way, even without a digital “public” library.  Since I am not as convinced the DPLA needs to rush right into loaning digital books or videos (even if they could) there might not be a large amount of overlap between them and traditional, physical public libraries.  As I said above, my view of the DPLA is a place where vast amounts of trusted information can be searched.  Public libraries could always turn things on their head and ask for more funding for digital projects which they can contribute to the DPLA so their community is not left out.

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