The Digital Public Library closer to becoming a reality

The library of the future probably won’t look like this.

The traditional library may be one step closer to getting a dramatic facelift.

The Digital Public Library of America is an effort to organize material into a comprehensive, online database so all students — from kindergarteners to postdoctoral researchers — can access the digitized content through the Internet.

The non-profit received a $1 million federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities last week.

“The Digital Public Library of America is an ambitious effort to create a national digital library system that will make the cultural heritage of the United States available to anyone with access to the Internet,” said Jim Leach, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in a press release.

The effort among libraries, museums and other academic organizations — notably Harvard University’s library — aims to create one spot for people to search simultaneously through numerous digital archives. As proposed, a single search within the digital library could bring up results with newspaper clippings, photos, military records and other relevant material.

The project is still in the early stages, with the $1 million grant going to create the digital library’s online infrastructure. The launch date is estimated to be April 2013, according to the Associated Press.

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Issues are already surfacing, especially around copyright infringement.

Google’s ongoing lawsuit with The Authors Guild centers around the Google Books project, in which the company has already scanned more than 20 million books and posted excerpts of millions online.

Google’s $125 million settlement was rejected by a judge last year. The now seven-year case highlights the issues that projects like the Digital Public Library face.

“We don’t know precisely how a digital library will progress given the unpredictable imaginative capacity of users and the thorny issues of copyright,” Leach said in the press release. “But we are confident that digital libraries are the logical extension of prior revolutions in the democratization of ideas.”.

Christina Reinwald is a Summer 2012 USA TODAY Collegiate Correspondent. Learn more about her here.

This story originally appeared on the USA TODAY College blog, a news source produced for college students by student journalists. The blog closed in September of 2017.