In a project as large and ambitious as the DPLA, funding will always be a concern. Content will continuously need to be added, maintained and preserved and staff will be needed to carry out the technical, administrative and legal tasks critical to its operation. Not only does a project of this magnitude demand fiscal responsibility, it requires flexibility in its operation and business model.
While the DPLA is currently operating on grant money, the organization is planning to explore a variety of funding models, as evidenced in the Financial/Business Models Workstream on the DPLA Web site: “Any effort to greatly increase the scope of public access to digital resources will require partnerships among many entities, public and private, including government institutions, foundations, libraries (public, academic, and special-purpose), and publishers, both for-profit and non-profit…Philanthropy will be a good starting point, but the effort must have a business model and a means of drawing on core funding from libraries and governments in order to get to scale. New models for working with publishers will be a component of this project” (dp.la/workstreams/finance/).
I commend the DPLA for its openness to multiple funding sources, flexible business plans and willingness to work with publishers to develop business models that are beneficial to both the DPLA and the bottom line. What remains to be seen, however, is how this will all pan out. The very phrase “drawing on core funding from libraries and governments” quoted from above brings up a red flag for me. In the current economic climate, libraries of all types are fighting for their own funding. It is almost unimaginable to think they would be able to provide any type of financial support for the DPLA.
Still, like my classmate Tammy, I love the idea of the DPLA. The DPLA seeks to continue the library profession’s goal of access to information for all and “meets the needs of the twenty-first century,” (Darnton, 2010).