January 20, 2022

Q&A Interview With Harvard University Librarian, Dr. Robert Darnton, About National Digital Public Library

Here’s are three questions and answers from the complete interview that appears in the July 24, 2011 edition of the Boston Globe:

IDEAS: So why not leave it to Google?

DARNTON: It became clear, as Google’s project evolved, that it would be a commercial enterprise, and in fact an enterprise attached to a gigantic monopoly. A monopoly, perhaps, with the best intentions, but that would not necessarily serve the public good, because of course Google’s primary responsibility would be to its shareholders


IDEAS: So what would a digital public library be like? What would it do?

DARNTON: It doesn’t look like everybody’s image of a library with a kind of Greek temple with lots of books behind the facade. It will be in all likelihood what we call a distributed system, a network that covers all of the holdings of the greatest research libraries in the country . . . .Users won’t even have to worry about where the actual digital text is.

IDEAS: Will you have librarians?

DARNTON: We need librarians who can handle this tremendous jumble of information that is in cyberspace. People think that when you use Google you’re finding exactly what you need, but really you need expert help.

Read the Complete Interview

It’s worth mentioning that the interview doesn’t mention that Google also wanted to digitize a massive amount of historic newspapers. As you know, the plan got underway and material was being digitized and then–without warning–Google cut the entire program (5/20/11) .

See Also: “Trinity U. Professor on: “How Google Disrespected Mexican History (7/12/2011)”


About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.