Last weekend, Harvard’s chief librarian, Robert Darnton, organized a meeting of representatives from foundations, institutions, and libraries to discuss how to build a national digital library. The group issued a statement to endorse the idea which includes an open distributed network of online resources from libraries, archives, museums, and universities across the country. According to Mr. Darnton, the goal is not to coordinate existing digitization projects but to make “the entire cultural heritage of the country accessible free of charge to all of our citizens.”
A recent article from The Chronicle includes an interview with Mr. Darnton about the meeting and the challenges. Darnton noted that the biggest obstacle will be “finding our way through our baroque copyright laws.” Next steps for the group include: forming a coalition of foundations to fund it and bringing together leaders to mobilize support in Washington.
Mr. Darnton also recently wrote a column for The New York Review of Books blog that discusses why the U.S. should begin building a national digital library and the other countries that are doing so.