A couple weeks ago I was working at home and had the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) plenary meeting streaming live on my computer. It played in the background, much like I would listen to music or a broadcast, as I plugged away at the day's activities. I would tune in and out of the discussion, occasionally flipping back to the window that streamed the event when something caught my attention.
I was very impressed by the comments made by a participant from the British Library and moved by her enthusiasm and excitement of the DPLA initiative. She warned of the challenges of shifting the culture of large organizations such as the British Library and Smithsonian and saw the advantages of the smaller more "nimble" organizations. I was also struck by her comments that the current generation of kids can't read cursive. It seems absurd but as I thought of it more deeply it made sense. My own kids have learned to read and write cursive but they never use it and are required to type all school assignments.
The announcement of a collaboration between DPLA and Europeana was a pleasant surprise. I am a big fan of what Europe is doing to preserve their cultural media (both Europeana and Presto Center which focusses on audiovisual materials).
Despite the great flow of ideas and vision for the DPLA, the desire for strong connectivity, open access, inoperable data modes, etc. I was struck by one particular comment made by a participant in the audience. She talked about a "scanabego" ... a vehicle that would travel to various libraries scanning their books. I immediately applied this to an audiovisual context where I believe there is an even more pressing need than books.
A combination of disappearing knowledge, equipment, and obsolescence of formats requires a concerted nation effort... which I believe has only received lip-service in the DPLA initiatives to date. There are countless audio and video recordings, particularly local productions and creations, that are sitting on shelves with no plan in place to preserve them. The rapid changes in library operations have, understandably, over-looked audiovisual materials. Nonetheless, they are an integral part of the historical record and can fit well in the rocketing online demand for audiovisual media.
It's funny that in all of the discussions and presentations of the beta-sprint projects this one idea of a mobile video digitization project has stuck with me. Maybe it's a calling...