Library Words: Digital Public Library of America

A bunch of libraries of various stripes: public, academic, institutional, etc. have come together to form The Digital Public Library of America. It seems like my kind of idea (“digital” and “library” what’s not to love?).  Still, there’s a whiff of a “solution in search of a problem” here. As there has before, to wit the “World Digital Library,” launched in 2009, and not something that seems to have caught fire.
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Just for giggles, I tried a couple of searches in DPLA. Not a fair test in these early days, perhaps. Looking for anything on the British poet Stephen Spender, I got Guide to the Utah State University. Faculty. Publications of the faculty, 1955-2008, which did not strike me as particularly edifying. I also tried “scordatura” (alternate tuning of a stringed instrument, encountered in the Baroque repertoire, as well as other eras.

That yielded nothing.

Perhaps these kinds of searches are not what the service is for, although the help page does say, “Type whatever you’re looking for—a subject, a name, a place—into the search box at the top of any page on the DPLA website and either click the magnifying glass to the right or hit return/enter on your keyboard.” (Note to the copy writers: it’s 2013, we know what to do! Also, you might want to fix “comprised of” in the History Page.) What then, really, is it for, however?

Both searches got results in my own public library catalog, DC’s Martin Luther King Library. And plain old “type your search in the box in Google” and got me gobs, of course, including the link below to baroque violinist Andrew Manze explaining and demonstrating scordatura in the music of the wonderful 17th century composer HIF Biber. Brought to you by the “Public Library of Arthur.”

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