How Library Renewal and the DPLA could cooperate toward two good national digital library systems—public and academic | LibraryCity
Been there. Done that. Some years ago I cofounded a noncommercial startup called LibraryCity—the same name as this Web site—to try to get millions of books online.
We ran into a little complication: Google’s book side blew us away. LibraryCity did prod the International Digital Publishing Forum into getting serious about e-book standards, by way of ePub. But as small-fry, not wired into the worlds of the super-rich, big business, foundations, and national politics, we lacked the clout to promulgate our own standards and build the digital library.
Now another grassroots startup, Library Renewal, led by Michael “Library Man” Porter, wants to create a library system online to give libraries a better deal than OverDrive is. I wish Michael all kinds of luck, and meanwhile here is my advice. Keep plugging away, but don’t do it without cooperating closely with the Harvard-hosted Digital Public Library of America on a common infrastructure, and share lots content in both directions. Library Renewal and other public library organizations could still have their own system focused on the community library needs online and offline, while the DPLA or a spin-off concentrated on an academic system.