David Rothman continues his commentary on the challenges faced by the Digital Public Library of America. He suggests the DPLA help state, local and federal governments create a companion digital public library system that would focus on the provision of urgently needed content and services, and share some but not all resources with an academic effort and even offer a common catalogue for those wanting it.
Commentary: Why we need two separate digital library systems – One for academics and another for the rest of America
In Mending Wall, a 1914 poem blessedly in the public domain, Robert Frost gives us a classic dictum for literature and life, and maybe for inter-organizational politics in particular: “Good fences make good neighbors.” On the whole Frost is anti-fence. But he understands his neighbor’s side; what’s more, “Mending Wall” resonates even in this era of global networks and sharable digital files. Frost died at 88 on January 29, 1963, just a little over two years after his poetry recital in the chilly Washington air at John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s inauguration; but on the Web you can still hear him reading Mending Wall and more.
David H. Rothman contends that “education at all levels should be the main priority of a public national digital library system even though it should serve many purposes. How can we train Americans for more complicated jobs, in this high-tech, globalized era, if they lack knowledge of the fundamentals? Even the nontechnical would benefit as, for example, better corporate strategists or marketers with a superior understanding of cultures outside the United States, and of history, commerce, and life in general. And if we can elevate the quality of public schools, not just private ones, won’t U.S. colleges and universities come out ahead with an enhanced pool of talent?”