The National Endowment for the Humanities announced Thursday that it has given a $1 million federal grant to a nonprofit effort to digitize the country's libraries.
According to an article in The Boston Globe, the grant money will help form a new nonprofit and create the technical platform needed to create what would be called the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a program that would share content across the U.S.'s public libraries and archives. An independent board will be created within two months to form the new organization, which will work with libraries across the country. The goal is to have a working prototype ready by April 2013. The effort will be headed by the Harvard University library in Cambridge, Mass.
Once completed, the digital library will be free to use for all users. There is also the possibility that it will partner with private entities, such as Google Books, that would allow individuals to access content that has already been digitized.
Efforts to digitize content has sometimes been met with legal resistance. Google has sometimes been stopped in its efforts to put books online because of copyright laws. The endowment's chairman, Jim Leach, acknowledged that the new organization would have to work within those laws, which could potentially limit the content for the DPLA.
The DPLA project will integrate with the European Union's Europena digital library collection. It is meant as a complement to the Library of Congress's ongoing World Digital Library project.
You can read the full story in The Boston Globe.