Ars Technica has a report on the Digital Public Library of America West conference from April 27th that seems to be a bit more informative than the Publishers Weekly summary we linked a week ago. Ars’s Megan Geuss reports on the challenge facing the organization, and some of the ideas presented at the event. The DPLA does have a tricky task ahead of it:

The organization must be a bank of documents, and a vast sea of metadata; an advocate for the people, and a partner with publishing houses; a way to make location irrelevant to library access without giving neighborhoods a reason to cut local library funding. And that will be hard to do.

Incorporating works of local significance into the library could be a challenge as well. As the controversy surrounding Google Books shows, there’s more to putting documents online than just scanning them and doing it. And deciding what should go into the library could also be hard.

One of the things the DPLA does having going for it is a huge collection of metadata about books—sort of like an on-line card catalog without the books themselves. The organization is working on an API to allow developers to access that trove of information, and hopes to have it ready by April of 2013.

It looks like the library is off to a promising start. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the DPLA clearly won’t be either. But in the way it is now we can see hints that it might develop into something very useful in the future.


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