As the two-day Midwest conference of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) comes to a close, it is clear that attendees believe they are taking part in something truly historic.
“I do not know of a greater foreign policy than a digital public library,” said Jim Leach, a DPLA contributor and chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “This will be a great flagship in reflecting authentic American culture.”
Each of the discussions throughout the conference hinted that the creation of a public access public library would be available for everyone and would open the doors for many new opportunities, big and small.
“We have not fully realized the potential of technology to cross boundaries,” said Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, during her presentation. “This new program will allow us to cross geographic, institutional, and thematic boundaries across the nation.”
The two-day event covered a lot of ground by presenting the core ideals of the library and helping to address some of the problems currently holding it back.
“This could be the start of something big,” exclaimed DPLA board member Paul Courant, who is university librarian and dean of libraries at the University of Michigan. “One of the big reasons I became a part of this was because it’s exciting and fun, and the digital world allows us to share in ways we just couldn’t before.”
There is still a lot of work to be done before the library makes its debut, but if the Midwest conference has shown anything, it is that the organization has a team of devoted and passionate people behind it.