ER&L: Toward the Digital Public Library of America

Speaker: Amanda French

Korea has a national digital library that recently opened a physical space in Seoul. It is not small or inexpensive, and contains a large collection. They are digitizing books, and have more than what is available in Netlibrary. The equipment in the building is high tech and varied, with multiple purposes in use. You can see photos of this on Flickr.

This is not about the wow factor. This is about providing information and resources to the citizens of Korea. They changed laws to allow the di-brarians to collect as much as they can from everywhere.

There is some talk of building a national digital library in the US, but only in a virtual sense. It started from a classical/Jeffersonian perspective, but public librarians have gotten involved, and the scope has widened.

The library is a public good and should be municipally supported, but this concept is relatively new in US history. However, recent financial woes have caused these entities to reduce or remove funding. In one town, the public checked out every book in the building to protest the closing of the library.

The biggest barrier to creating a national digital library in the Us is copyright laws. Korea was willing to change laws, but is our government? Do we have the funding to pay for enough lobbyists?

The text of this talk is available on her blog. This is just my paraphrase of the points she made.