Combining the Nation's Digitized Libraries, All In One Place
By LAURA SYDELL
Now, tech comes to the library. Buried in深埋在 the archives資料/檔案庫 of America's libraries are countless treasures - old papers, photos, public records - that create a vivid picture of our past. But finding what you're looking for isn't always easy. Libraries are now starting to put digital copies數位副本 of those treasures online, but you may still need a search expert搜尋專家 to find what you're looking for.
As part of our series系列 on public libraries, NPR's Laura Sydell reports on a project that's meant to make things even easier by putting all that material on one site.
LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: As soon as the Digital Public Library of America美國數位公共圖書館(2013年4月啟用) launched啟用 in April, Lincoln Mullen started to use it. He's a graduate student at Brandeis University researching the history of religious conversion宗教對話 in the U.S. Mullen came across發現 some records on the DPLA that aren't easy to find.
LINCOLN MULLEN: Documents about slaveholders奴隸主 and the conversion of some of their slaves.
SYDELL: Mullen says the DPLA uncovered發現 handwritten letters by a slave owner, William H.W. Barnwell, in which Barnwell discussed religious instruction to slaves and how the North misunderstood the South in these matters. The records were in the digital archives of the College of Charleston. Mullen says it would have been really hard to find these documents by doing a general Internet search一般性的搜尋.
MULLEN: It's hard to know, apart from sort of really lots and lots of browsing, where those collections are available. They're all fragmented不完整的 in so many different places.
SYDELL: The DPLA made it possible to search one place. Right now, there are only about four million items on the site, but it's growing by around 500,000 new books and documents a month, as more libraries from around the country come on board.
I'm walking into the back rooms of San Francisco's main public library where technicians are busy scanning掃描 books, photos and newspaper clips剪報 to be put online. Susan Goldstein, the city's archivist檔案資料員, says right now they're dealing books from the late 1800s.
SUSAN GOLDSTEIN: We have these huge scrapbooks剪貼簿that came to us from the police department警局, and a lot of them are full of mold黴菌. So we're scanning them because it's, you know, it's preservation保存.
SYDELL: Goldstein brings me to a room where large books are placed in a cradle大型托架/搖籃, carefully pinned down固定好位置 and put under a camera. It's a rather tedious冗長的 process of going page by page. But Goldman says these are wonderful historical records that could people outside of San Francisco, like the scrapbook of a famous homicide detective 謀殺案偵探named Theodore Kitke. He was a pioneer先鋒者 in using modern techniques like handwriting analysis筆跡比對鑑定.
GOLDSTEIN: And it's all his cases that he testified作證 in or worked on. And so it's just all these murder cases, mostly, like the mistress poisoning the wife and sending her chocolates, or was it wife poisoned the mistress, I think it was, that one big case.
SYDELL: San Francisco is working to get this material on the Digital Public Library of America. Luis Herrera, the city librarian, is on the DPLA board. He thinks this service is going to be great for students of all ages in San Francisco and elsewhere - from grammar school美國的國中 to graduate school.
LUIS HERRERA: Think of the amazing stuff that's there, whether it's the first photograph of the moon. And they have some amazing photographs of the civil rights movement美國民權運動. You can use that for your school experience.
SYDELL: And it's free, which is part of the motivation刺激/推動 behind the DPLA. It's an idea that germinated萌芽 on the East Coast at the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard University美國哈佛大學柏克曼網際網路與社會中心. Among the founders is John Palfrey, who now heads領導 the exclusive private high school Phillips Academy菲利浦斯學院(美國歷史最悠久的寄宿高中). Palfrey says he was concerned that the process of digitizing the nation's books and records was being left to a private company, Google, which had deals with publishers.
JOHN PALFREY: Which I think vested too much authority賦予太多權力 in a group of for-profits營利組織 who had a particular interest有特殊目的, which was making money from the sale of books. And it's not to say authors and publishers shouldn't be able to make money from the sale of books. Of course they should. But when we're talking about a library and talking about the future of libraries, I think a public-spirited entity以公共精神為導向的組織 needs to have a central role核心角色 there.
SYDELL: But when it comes to more recent books and materials, the DPLA is caught in a bind綁手綁腳. Libraries are locked in tough negotiations with publishers over how to purchase and lend copyrighted e-books有版權的電子書. So instead, the DPLA is targeting將目標放在 materials already in the public domain公共領域.
PALFREY: There's a ton that we could do that's useful to the public without having to wonder about copyright. So if we were to get all public domain materials digitized in every library and sharable from any other point on the globe, that would be an enormous service to the world將對世界提供極大的服務(幫助).
SYDELL: It's terrific that the DPLA is helping the world. But some public librarians are not sure it's what the patrons主顧 actually need.
JIM DUNCAN: In my view, it - the DPLA does not fit the definition of a public library.
SYDELL: Jim Duncan is the director of the Colorado Library Consortium, which helps libraries in the state to assess and meet the needs of their patrons評估如何達到主顧的需求.
DUNCAN: What the typical public library user wants and needs, it tends to be contemporary content當代內容的書籍, bestsellers暢銷書. And that's what they're coming to the public library to check out.
SYDELL: Duncan would like to see the DPLA use more of its muscle把多一點力氣(放在) to negotiate with publishers, to make e-books available through libraries. The backers支持者 of the DPLA say they do want to take on the copyright issues. But for now, they hope to lay the foundation打下基礎 by digitizing the resources they can get up quickly and without a fight.不要有爭議或是阻力
Laura Sydell, NPR News.