Harvard Planning a National Digital Public Library

By Ian Quillen — December 16, 2010 1 min read
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Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society announced this week it will research and plan an initiative to construct a “Digital Public Library of America” with funding from the Sloan Foundation.

While the structure and content of the future Digital Public Library of America is unclear, it will be an open, distributed network that represents a consensus of the country’s libraries, universities, archives, and museums, according to a press release. The nation’s archivist, David Ferriero, has already offered to assemble a plenary meeting in the early summer of 2011 to help determine the library’s shape and size.

Now I know what you’re thinking: But I thought Google was the nation’s digital public library!? Well, while we are four years and a day from Google World Domination, there are other ongoing efforts similar to the Berkman Center’s initiative to link and centralize already-existing Web resources for the good of the student. For example, this July, the U.S. Department of Education announced its partnership with the Smithsonian Institute to create an online learning registry that unifies all sorts of digital educational resources from the federal and federally aligned agencies.

While the ed-tech world is still figuring out how to integrate some cutting-edge technologies—mobile learning comes to mind—is it possible that these moves are representative of a change in the direction of ed-tech, from a period of exploding innovation to a period of unifying those innovations for the common good? At least until the next big thing comes along, anyway.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.