I would like to consider the following quote, from a recent blog post by Vicki Zeamer, http://dp.la/2013/02/07/press-a-digital-public-library-of-america-free-for-all/ .
“‘Palfrey hopes that projects such as DPLA, Open Access publishing, and Wikipedia-style development will shift the balance of information power back to the wider community.’”
I think this type of content is key to creating a digital library. As I’ve said elsewhere, publishers will continue to fight hard against anything that looks like ebook ownership by libraries, since they see that as an existential threat. I think it is safe to say that we should expect publishers to create the future in their own image, which is why it is all the more important to find and add value to content from other places, and in that respect, the DPLA is going about it exactly the right way.
In the article, Palfrey compares the digital library to the architectural projects of the early twentieth century. In building grand public buildings with lofty, though perhaps outdated ideals, libraries truly did add value to the items in the collection: by bringing them all together, by legitimizing genres, by making items discoverable, by creating a society that could appreciate them, by giving voice to the next generation of writers. All these things are possible with digital items as well, if we invest in the appropriate infrastructure. The comparison is also a little telling in that, in order to build all of those grand buildings, libraries and communities had to work with and accept funding from major corporate interests. Will working with Google be as helpful as working with Carnegie? We’ll see, I guess.