Re: National Digital Public Library (was: Bill Clinton: Create Internet agency)

From: David H. Rothman <davidrothman_at_nyob>
Date: Mon, 23 May 2011 17:37:01 -0400
Eric, I know your viewpoint is common on campus, and, yes, I can see
the public digital system starting out with unencumbered content. But
if we really want to address K-12 and other literacy needs and make
the taxpayers happy, then copyrighted content is a must. Given Bernie
publib background, I'm not surprised he shares my concerns over costs
of copyrighted content. I'm a mere patron, not a librarian, but I am
an ex-child and big publib booster as well as a teacher's brother.

See the Library Journal Point-Counterpoint between me and the DPLA at

Understandably, academics and pubic librarians have different
priorities, and this is no small reason why I believe we need two
separate but tightly intertwined systems.

David Rothman

On Mon, May 23, 2011 at 5:07 PM, Eric Lease Morgan <> wrote:
> On May 22, 2011, at 5:57 PM, B.G. Sloan wrote:
>> While I applaud David Rothman's sentiments about the National Digital Public Library concept, I find myself wondering about the likelihood of licensing widespread public access to copyrighted materials... I think the key to any "national digital library" is to find some way to offer widespread public accesss to copyrighted materials at an affordable price that publishers will accept. I'm not sure that's do-able in today's publishing climate. Something/someone has to give.
> I'm not so sure I agree; I do not think a key to any national digital library is finding a way to offer copyrighted materials.
> I think the inclusion of copyrighted (read "licensed") materials makes just about any library more complete, but I do not think their inclusion is necessary. Their inclusion makes libraries more useful, but their exclusion would not make them useless. The key to addressing these issues is the definition of the library and the articulation of a corresponding collection policy.
> As we all know, the amount of data/information freely available on the Web abounds, and its size is only getting bigger. If a library's collection policy dictated the inclusion of only free materials, then the library could easily include content such as:
>  * audio recordings
>  * blog postings
>  * conference proceedings
>  * digitized books
>  * digitized museum items
>  * government publications
>  * images
>  * mailing list archives
>  * open access journals
>  * research data sets
>  * theses & dissertations
>  * Twitter feeds
>  * videos
> All of this content could be collected, described, archived, indexed, and a have services provided against it. Yes, the inclusion of copyrighted ("licensed") material in libraries is complicated, but those complications are a superset of the complications of freely available material. I advocate first learning how to collect, curate, organize, and disseminate freely available content, and once that is well understood tackle the difficulties of licensed material.
> I believe a national digital library can be successful sans the inclusion of licensed material.
> --
> Eric Lease Morgan
> University of Notre Dame
Received on Mon May 23 2011 - 17:37:41 EDT