The DPLA listserv is probably too impractical for most of Code4Lib, but Nate Hill (who's on this list as well) made this contribution there, which I think deserves attention from library coders here.
On Apr 5, 2011, at 11:15 AM, Nate Hill wrote:
> It is awesome that the project Gutenberg stuff is out there, it is a great start. But libraries aren't using it right. There's been talk on this list about the changing role of the public library in people's lives, there's been talk about the library brand, and some talk about what 'local' might mean in this context. I'd suggest that we should find ways to make reading library ebooks feel local and connected to an immediate community. Brick and mortar library facilities are public spaces, and librarians are proud of that. We have collections of materials in there, and we host programs and events to give those materials context within the community. There's something special about watching a child find a good book, and then show it to his or her friend and talk about how awesome it is. There's also something special about watching a senior citizens book group get together and discuss a new novel every month. For some reason, libraries really struggle with treating their digital spaces the same way.
> I'd love to see libraries creating online conversations around ebooks in much the same way. Take a title from project Gutenberg: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Why not host that book directly on my library website so that it can be found at an intuitive URL, www.sjpl.org/the-adventures-of-huckleberry-finn and then create a forum for it? The URL itself takes care of the 'local' piece; certainly my most likely visitors will be San Jose residents- especially if other libraries do this same thing. The brand remains intact, when I launch this web page that holds the book I can promote my library's identity. The interface is no problem because I can optimize the page to load well on any device and I can link to different formats of the book. Finally, and most importantly, I've created a local digital space for this book so that people can converse about it via comments, uploaded pictures, video, whatever. I really think this community conversation and context-creation around materials is a big part of what makes public libraries special.
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