Inside the Quest to Put the World's Libraries Online - Esther Yi - The Atlantic 2012-07-30


[Use the link to access the full text article from The Atlantic.] “In his short story ‘The Library of Babel,’ Jorge Luis Borges imagines the universe as a ‘total library,’ whose 410-page books have achieved all possible combinations of letters and punctuation. No two books are the same. Some, of course, are gibberish. But others carry the answer to life's deepest mysteries. In Borges's library can be found every thought ever had, every turn of phrase ever uttered, every masterpiece penned by Shakespeare, and even the ones that he never got to write—simply stated, everything.  Borges's fearsome fantasy builds upon a centuries-old conception of the library as an enclosed instantiation of the universe's mighty sprawl...  The fascination with completeness is as timeless as it is ingrained. In the last decade, the Internet has made the ambition of universality appear closer to realization than ever before: What is the Web, if not a vast collection, and an accessible one? But as with any new frontier, formidable challenges attend exciting possibilities—and nowhere has this been more apparent than in the efforts of the Digital Public Library of America, a coalition spearheading the largest effort yet to curate and make publicly available the ‘cultural and scientific heritage of humanity,’ with a focus on materials from the U.S., by harnessing the Internet's capabilities. The DPLA hopes to create a platform that will orchestrate millions of materials—books from public and university libraries, records from local historical societies, museums, and archives—into a single, user-friendly interface accessible to every American with Internet access. It will launch a prototype in April 2013. If successful, the resource has the potential to revolutionize the way information is organized and found online, to radically expand public access to knowledge, and to represent a sharp counterpoint to the model already offered by search-giant Google... “


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Open Access Tracking Project (OATP) »

Tags: oa.comment oa.libraries oa.museums oa.librarians oa.hathi oa.dpla oa.a.p.sloan_foundation oa.archives oa.ia oa.loc oa.societies

Date tagged:

07/30/2012, 17:49

Date published:

07/30/2012, 13:49