Next month, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is scheduled to make its public debut. During a two-day event from April 18-19th, the DPLA will be unveiled at the Boston Public Library. Daniel J. Cohen, a leading digital-humanities scholar, is designated to be the project’s founding executive director.

Mr. Cohen indicated that the DPLA will function as a gatherer of information and a gateway to it. It will be a nationwide collaboration of state and regional digital libraries which will consolidate local content and upstream it to the nationwide DPLA. The general public, scholars, and teachers will have free access to digital collections and cultural resources across the country.

Mr. Cohen is a strong advocate for open access information and sees digital rights management as a great obstacle for the general public. He says, “right now we can see many of the ways in which cultural materials are being locked up or attached with DRM [digital rights management]. We really need a national organization to say, ‘We need a strong public option.’”

However, Mr. Cohen is worried that the general public is not even aware of the DPLA, saying that “99 percent of Americans have not heard of this before.” He is striving to make the DPLA visible to the public, but he also wants them to understand that the DPLA is meant to supplement and strengthen public libraries; it is not a replacement for them.

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