Berkman Center Announces Digital Public Library Planning Initiative

December 13, 2010

December 13, 2010 – The Berkman Center for Internet and Society today announced that it will host a research and planning initiative for a “Digital Public Library of America.” With funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Berkman will convene a large and diverse group of stakeholders in a planning program to define the scope, architecture, costs and administration for a proposed Digital Public Library of America.

“We’re grateful to Berkman for coordinating this historic effort to create a Digital Public Library of America and to fulfill the vision of an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that draws on the nation’s living heritage to educate, inform and empower everyone in this and future generations,” said Doron Weber, Vice President at the Sloan Foundation. “The Berkman Center’s impressive depth of research on the Internet makes it an ideal leader for the planning program. We hope to emerge with a concrete workplan and a governance structure that represents the consensus of the country’s libraries, universities, archives and museums for moving forward together with a shared vision.”

Planning activities will be guided by a Steering Committee of library and foundation leaders, which promises to announce a full slate of activities in early 2011.  The Committee plans to bring together representatives from the educational community, public and research libraries, cultural organizations, state and local government, publishers, authors, and private industry in a series of meetings and workshops to examine strategies for improving public access to comprehensive online resources.

One meeting is already in the works: David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States of America, has offered to host a plenary meeting that will assemble stakeholders in early summer 2011.  Ferriero said, “It is exciting to contemplate a future where the cultural heritage of our country is available at your fingertips.  It is, therefore, important to bring together all interested parties to create a vision of that future.“ Three major federal cultural institutions -- Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the Smithsonian Institution -- are already discussing a collaborative effort to build and make accessible a digital collection of materials from their collections.

In addition to the plenary meeting, an intensive slate of workshops will be held, running in five parallel tracks --- legal, content, technical, financial and governance --- to build consensus for next steps in each area.

Steering Committee members include:

Paul Courant, Harold T. Shapiro Professor of Public Policy and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan
Robert Darnton
, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library
Charles Henry
, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
Brewster Kahle
, Founder of the Internet Archive
Michael A. Keller, Ida M. Green University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources at Stanford University
Carl Malamud
, President, Public.Resource.Org
Deanna Marcum
, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress
Maura Marx
, Berkman Center Fellow and Executive Director, Knowledge Commons
Jerome McGann
, John Stewart Bryan University Professor at the University of Virginia
Donald Waters
, Program Officer for Scholarly Communications and Information Technology at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Doron Weber
, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
John Palfrey
, Faculty Co-Director at the Berkman Center; Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School, will lead the Steering Committee.

Palfrey commented, "There is great promise in the digital future for libraries, but we need to work in coordinated fashion across many institutions to shape it in a way that is in the public interest. We are excited about creating a big tent in which many leaders can work together to create the design for a Digital Public Library of America."

About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu.

About the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, founded in 1934, makes grants for research and education in science, technology and economic performance. A major goal of Sloan’s program in digital information technology and the dissemination of knowledge is to foster public access to information and knowledge for the benefit of all. More information can be found at http://sloan.org

Contact
Amar Ashar
Berkman Center for Internet & Society
ashar@cyber.law.harvard.edu

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Last updated January 06, 2011

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