Three questions with the project's executive director
Two-and-a-half years ago, at a meeting in Cambridge, leaders of 42 of America's top libraries and research institutions decided that the time had come to build something together. But what was that thing? After a half hour, Robert Darnton told The Atlantic last year, the group was able to agree on a single sentence: "It's a worthy effort, and we are willing to work together toward it." The "it" in question: a national, digital public library.
If that moment was the Digital Public Library of America's conception, then today is its birth, with the launch of DP.LA, the effort's online home. I asked executive director Dan Cohen about what the DPLA had become in those intervening 20 months, and how he saw its role in American public life going forward. A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.