The National Digital Public Library is launched!

The article was first published in April 2013 to mark the launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Robert Darnton looks back at the historical and philosophical principles underlying the launch of a project that he sees as shedding light on two trends that have shaped modern America: Utopianism and pragmatism. He also explores how the DPLA’s position has shifted with regard to the earlier Google Book Search project, which fell foul of the justice system in 2011 when it was deemed to represent a dangerous monopoly on access to knowledge. Robert Darnton introduces the DPLA’s open, distributed network, which aims “make the bulk of world literature available to all citizens free of charge” by creating “a grand coalition of foundations and research libraries.”