Scope: Possibilities versus Limitations

I grew up in a backwoods town in the middle-of-nowhere Wisconsin. We had to literally bus people to the next town over for high school electives, like Spanish. (For whatever reason, we could take French, and when I went to college, I found out most of what I’d been taught had been pronounced incorrectly. I digress.) What I’m getting at is that something like DPLA would have been a godsend for a bookish little nerd like me, assuming we had the Internet in 1989, and Darnton’s quote truly hit home for me.

But dreams are dreams, and Peter’s questions of scope are important to consider. I feel like there’s a war going on regarding digital content and copyright. Look how difficult it is for libraries to offer e-books, and much of that comes down to the major copyright holders refusing to play ball. I realize this is a bit apples and oranges, but as we fund digitization and think about what should be included in DPLA, we can’t ignore that some parties may not be interested in a broad, open playing field such as this.

Funding, too, is a question. Right now, the U.S. Congress isn’t interested in funding anything. I think sometimes they would rather every bridge in the country fall apart — it’s not an investment, it’s stimulus, is what I heard argued on “Marketplace” today. But something like DPLA needs funding and staffing, and it can’t live on grant money alone.

These are some severe limitations. But does that mean we shouldn’t go for it? Dreams do come true sometimes, if you make the right decisions and work hard.

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One response to “Scope: Possibilities versus Limitations

  1. When you say comparing apples to oranges, I think you are right. I don’t think we’ll ever see libraries’ role in the digital world being the same as it is in print. By that I mean that libraries will probably never have digital content created by someone else, with great, popular titles, high quality research, etc, etc, and then have it be our right to disseminate it equitably. Right now, publishers see a chance to reshape the world in their own image and they are going to make dang sure that nothing like right of first sale can ever exist in the digital world.
    What that means to me is that digital libraries have to work a little harder for content, and work harder at making content meaningful. That is, to me, the apples and oranges… digital libraries won’t be like print libraries.

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