DPLA Steering Committee Meeting Notes: October 20, 2011

Posted by Rebekah Heacock Jones on October 20, 2011 in DPLA Updates, October 2011 Plenary.

The Digital Public Library of America Steering Committee met briefly today to check in before tomorrow’s plenary meeting. The Steering Committee has not met in person since June, but has been in touch via email over the summer. Most of their work has been related to the beta sprint, the review of the beta submissions, and planning for tomorrow’s event.

The notes below were taken by John Palfrey, Chair of the DPLA Steering Committee


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
Carla Hayden, Chief Executive Officer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, Maryland)
Charles Henry, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute for Museum and Library Services
Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive
Carl Malamud, President, Public.Resource.Org
Maura Marx, Berkman Center Fellow and Executive Director, Open Knowledge Commons
Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan University Professor at the University of Virginia
Dwight McInvaill, Director of the Georgetown County Library (South Carolina)
John Palfrey (Chair), Professor of Law and Faculty Co-Director at the Berkman Center, Harvard University
Peggy Rudd, Executive Director/State Librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Doron Weber (Vice Chair), Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Michael Colford for Amy Ryan, Boston Public Library
Brian Bannon for Luis Herrera, San Francisco Public Library


We welcomed Dwight McInvaill, our newest Steering Committee, who joins us from the Georgetown County Library. Dwight gave a lovely opening statement about his own background (including life in Pawleys Island, SC) and his interest in participation in the DPLA.

Doron Weber discussed our funding situation (with more information to be discussed in public tomorrow morning at our plenary session). Doron Weber has been asked to become Vice Chair of the Steering Committee and has accepted. His job as Vice Chair on the Steering Committee will be to coordinate funders and to manage our financial strategy over the next eighteen months and beyond.

We discussed the role of the of the Steering Committee moving forward, at least for the new phase of DPLA planning and development in the coming eighteen months. The Steering Committee will be the place to which the Workstreams will bring their proposals for the biggest of the issues. For instance, we know that we will need to have conversations about what comes out of the Governance Workstream (should the DPLA be a separate 501(c)(3), or part of another organization, or something else altogether?), the Technical Aspects Workstream (what will be doing as part of technology development? Are we just adopting common standards or are we building a full system of some sort?), and each of the other four. The Workstreams will operate in a manner that is broadly inclusive and open. Ideally, we will be operating consistently by consensus in each of these areas, both at the Workstream level and at the Steering Committee level.

We heard a brief update about recent developments at the Federal Depository Library Program and how changes in that system may, in future, affect plans from the DPLA.

One Comment

  1. Here are a few more nuances, for latecomers.

    Two of the more important questions before the Steering Committee will be:

    –Should the DPLA help America’s public libraries establish their own national digital system to address needs such as as family literacy in the Internet era? In that vein, how about the issue of public libraries buying books directly from publishers and relying much less on OverDrive, Amazon and other companies that might eventually bypass them? Amazon is already studying the possibility of a Netflix for books. Furthermore, what about the digital divide and access issues associated with hardware and connectivity? Can one digital system address all these issues while still serving the academic community adequately? And if the system is not a true library but merely an aggregation of resources, just how much of an improvement will it offer over the status quo? What about the possibility of both a “National Digital Library of America” and a “Scholarly Digital Library of America,” sharing some content and a common technical organization supplying servers and services? Both systems could be universally accessible.

    –Is use of the word “Public” (in the DPLA’s name) harmful to the franchise and branding of actual public libraries? That is a concern of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, which passed a resolution against this. The comedian Bill Maher recently said, in all seriousness as interpreted by most people, that public libraries are no longer needed.

    For perspective on the above, from LibraryCity.org, see: http://librarycity.org/?p=2506 .

    Yet another issue is whether routine SC committee meetings should be open to the public. Ideally they will be, whether in person or virtual. The e-mail list is laudably open, but a list cannot hire people or apply for grants. Everyone will benefit if routine SC meetings are broadcast, just as the special D.C. meeting is.

    David Rothman

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