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[dpla] second session

Maura Marx introduces Jill Cousins of Europeana who says that we all agree that we want to make the contents of libraries, museums and archives archives available for free. We agree on interoperability and open metadata. She encourages us to adopt the Europeana Data Model. Share our source code. Build our collections together. So, we’re starting with a virtual exhibition of migration of Europeans to American. The DPLA and Europeana will demonstrate the value of their combined collections — text and images — by digitizing material and making it available as an exhibition. (Maura thanks Bob Darnton for building European ties.)

NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangling other people’s ideas and words. You are warned, people.

Maura Sullivan, president elect of the American Library Association, moderates a panel about visions of the DPLA. Each panelist gets 5-7 minutes

John Palfrey: It’s a bridge we’re building as we walk over it. But it has 5 aspects. 1. Digitizing projects. It’ll be a collection of collections. We should be digitizing in common ways with common formats. But, DPLA will also be: 2. Code. SourceForge for Libraries. Anyone can take and reuse it, including public libraries. 3. Metadata. That’s what makes info findable and usable. It’s the special sauce of librarians. But we haven’t done it yet. We need open access to metadata. 4. Tools and services that ride on top of a common platform. E.g., extraMuros, Scannebagos. 5. Community.

Peggy Rudd, Texas State Library and Archives Commission. We want to see someone walking down the street with a cellphone who says, “I’m going to DPLA it.” We should take as a guiding idea that all people in the country ought to have access to the infrastructure of ideas. We have to think about access. Those of us in public libraries are going to be the digital literacy corps. Public libraries are going to be the institutions that can ensure that people can discover things and will help people evaluate what they find, ensuring what they find is relevant, and help people get the most out of the DPLA.

Brewster Kahle, The Internet Archive. I grew up in a paper world. But I believe the Archivist is right: If it’s not online, it doesn’t exist. There are now two large scale digital library projects in the US. Ten million books are available from a commercial source, and 2M that are public (at But let’s step back and see where we want to be: Lots of publishers and authors who are paid; a diversity of libraries; everyone can be a reader, no matter what language, proclivities, disabilities. Let’s go and get 10M ebooks. 2M public domain (free), 7M out of print (digitized to be lent), 1M in print (buy ebook and lend them). Libraries ought to ebooks and circulate them, one loan at a time per one book. DPLA ought to help libraries buy new eBooks to lend them, as well as scanning the core 10M book collection, and enable al libraries get the digital collections. At this point, a 10M ebook collections requires about $30K of computers, which is within the budget of many libraries. For this, we would get universal access to all knowledge. How do we stay on track? Follow the money: is the money being well spent. And follow the bits: the bits should be put in many places. “Together we can build a digital America that is free to all.”

Amanda French begins with John Donne, “Sunrising.” [I am here heavily paraphrasing!] For most, the sun rising is a beginning, but for lovers it is an ending. The unruly sun of the digital text is rising, calling us to work, whereas I would rather snuggle in bed with a book. Love can exist in a commercial relationship, but that’s not ideal. I would like a library that supports me in all my moods, from contemplation to raucous sociality. We need proof of love. Physical libraries manifest that love. The DPLA must manifest itself as more than a web site, many quiet and generous services to readers, developers…technical and social. While I agree that if it isn’t online, it doesn’t exist, but if it’s only only online, it only half exists. And I want a physical building. Not just a server center. [Again: I’ve poorly paraphrased.]

Jill Cousins, Europeana. We want the DPLA because we get access to your stuff. [Laughter] But DPLA can improve on Europeana with open data, Open Source, Open Licensing. Also, we should be interopable. Our new strategic plan has four aspects. 1. Aggregating content as an trusted source. 2. Facilitating, supporting cultural eritage. 3. Distributing: Wherever people are. 4. Engaging: New ways to participate in cultural heritage. Europeana currentlu has 20M items, multiple languages. I’m particularly interested in the APIs so material can be distributed to where people will use it. (She points to content about the US that is in their distributed collection.) To facilitate: Labeling content so users know it’s in the public domain. What’s in the PD in analog form ought to stay in the PD in digital form. Engage: Cultivate new way for users to participate in their cultural heritage. One project: People are asked to bring their memorabilia from WWI. So, why DPLA: We are the generation that can give acccess to the analog past. If we don’t digitize it and put it online, will our kids?

Carl Malamud. When I think of the DPLA, I think of the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s a tremendous reservoir of knowledge waiting to be tapped. Our Internet is flooded with only certain types of knowledge, and other types are not available to all. E.g., our law and policies — the operating system of our society — are not openly available because private fences have enclosed. E.g., if you’re a creator, you draw on imagery that has accumulated over thousands of years. Creative workers must stand on the shoulders of giants. But much of that image is locked up in for-profit corps that have built walls around public domain material. Even the Smithsonian only allows its images to be used by paying for them. We already have beautiful museums and bottomless libraries. What if the DPLA created a common reservoir that we could tap into. What if the Hathi Trust put everything that have into a common pool. Another metaphor: A bridge that connects our capitol to the rest of the country. DC is a vast storehouse. Most of the resources are hidden. We need public works projects for knowledge. A national digitization project, a decade long. Deploy the Internet Core of Engineers. “If a self-appointed librarian in an old church can publish 2M books, why can’t our government do more?

[I had to see a man about a dog, and missed a couple of questions.]

Q: How do we transform the use of public libraries?
Peggy: They have to evolve, and many are evolving already. E.g., user-created content. 46% of low-income families don’t have computers or Internet access.

Q: Bandwidth is a critical issue, particularly in rural areas. I hope that the DPLA realizes it’s going to have data-heavy materials. How are we going to build bandwidth to the public libraries?
Peggy: I’m happy to see the Gates Foundation here. They’ve worked with local libraries to provide and maintain bandwidth. 5mb is not enough when kids swarm in after school.

Q: Imagine an Ecuadoran American mother who is a part time student. She belongs to a lot of communities. I want to make sure that the coding of the DPLA recognizes that we each live in multiple communities.
Peggy: We all agree.

Q: First, in 1991 a White House conf was talking about not just scanning, but enable people to send in their materials (e.g., super8 family movies) that could be digitized. Second, DPLA has a huge potential for freeing up resources at the local library so it can spend its resources on customizing content to what that community needs, or let the person customize the library for herself.

Q: How does an ordinary person get involved in DPLA right now. Lobbying?
John: Lots of ways. Mobilization counts. The effect on local libraries needs to be explained; no one here thinks or wants the DPLA to hurt local public libraries. That’s a crazy thought. But that needs to be explained. I would be so sorry if this project led to the closing of a single library. And, yes, I think we should have a way for individuals to donate. How can you get involved in the setting up of this project: Deciding what the DPLA is an open process. There are six workstreams. Today is meant in part as an invitation to join in those workstreams. There will be meetings over the next 18 months; the meetings will be open. Come. We need people to build with what we create. We need people to think of new use cases. In April 2013 when we come together for the launch, if there are ten more people attending, that will be a sign of success.

Q: What do you have in the collection for children, 0-8? Why will a parent want to use the DPLA?
John: The DPLA needs to create a common infrastructure so people can create libraries and services out of the combined collection. But as a parent of a six and 9 year old, we’ll keep buying paper books and reading to our kids. The DPLA is not a replacement.
Peggy: Univ. of Texas in Arlington did a study at what engages students in the study of the history of Texas. Students perform better on tests if they had a greater interaction with real documents. We’re bringing history to the classrooms.
Carl: The Encyclopedia of Life has pictures of bugs, etc. And the Smithsonian has a great online resource [didn’t catch it], and the net thing the kid will want to do is visit the Smithsonian.
Amanda: If it isn’t online people don’t know it exists. If they know …[Ack. Lost the rest of this post. Noooooo]

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