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Robert Darnton On The Digitization Of Books And The Future Of Libraries And Publishing

Justin Ide
Harvard University News Office

“Jefferson and Franklin—the champion of the Library of Congress and the printer turned philosopher-statesmen—shared a profound belief that the health of the Republic depended on the free flow of ideas…Thanks to the Internet and a pervasive if imperfect system of education, we now can realize the dream of Jefferson and Franklin. We have the technological and economic resources to make all the collections of all our libraries accessible to all our fellow citizens—and to everyone everywhere with access to the World Wide Web,” writes Robert Darnton, author and editor of many books and articles, as well as being Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard.

Darnton joins host Jonathan Judaken to discuss the future of libraries, the printed press, and his project – the Digital Public Library of America, or D.P.L.A. – which he hopes will foster a culture of "open access" to help promote the free communication of knowledge and sharing of intellectual wealth in order to create this "digital commonwealth." Their conversation includes the past and future of books (and eBooks), the public need for libraries, the Enlightenment, and the importance of journalism.

Darnton has served as a trustee of the New York Public Library and the Oxford University Press (USA) and terms as president of the American Historical Association and the International Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies. Among his honors are a MacArthur Prize Fellowship, a National Book Critics Circle Award, election to the French Legion of Honor, the National Humanities Medal conferred by President Obama in February 2012, and the Del Duca World Prize in the Humanities awarded by the Institut de France in 2013.

On Thursday, October 10, 2013n at 6 p.m., Darnton will give a public lecture at University of Memphis’s UC Theater titled “Digitize and Democratize: Libraries, Books and the Digital Future,” and he will participate in the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment's symposium on “The Past and Future of the Book” at Rhodes College on Friday, October 11, 2013, starting at 9 am. 

For more information on the D.P.L.A, you can visit the Digital Public Library of America online.

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