LibraryCity’s Baltimore Sun commentary on digital libraries: Will the New York Times’s Friedman and other pundits connect the dots?

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New York Times columnist Tom Friedman—photo below—has written a column headlined Pass the Books. Hold the Oil.

As the Public Library Association prepares to meet March 13-17, I’d hope that LibraryCity’s Baltimore Sun commentary would be of interest to him. Same for other articles appearing in the Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere. Here’s the start of the Sun article:

imageThere are already tens of millions of e-book lovers, and their ranks are sure to be boosted by the new iPad unveiled last week — along with improved Kindles, Nooks and their rivals.

My sister, the retired fourth-grade teacher, has finally succumbed; Dorothy reads faster by enlarging the words on her tablet. And my wife favors e-books when she stretches out in bed. Clearly, the time has come for a well-stocked national digital library system, not to replace brick-and-mortar libraries but to augment them.

In the 1990s, William F. Buckley Jr. — my political opposite — wrote two columns supporting my basic vision. He even recommended it to Newt Gingrich. But years later, we still lack a coherent national e-library strategy. (As of 2 p.m. Friday, 236 patrons of Maryland’s Digital eLibary Consortium were waiting for 33 copies of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel. In this case, because of legal restrictions and related technical precautions, a digital copy is just like a paper copy — only one library patron can read it at a time.) […]

I’m still as gung ho as ever about the potential of the Digital Public Library of America and hope that the Sun commentary will help nudge the DPLA in the right direction and also encourage the White House to care more about the digital library issue. The DPLA has its flaws but has made considerable progress since I first started writing about it. Check out the Wiki proposing an e-book reader that ideally would be Kindle-easy and at the same time offer advanced features for scholars.

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