Cultural Historian Robert Darnton on Digitizing Dartmouth’s Treasures

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Leading Voices in Higher Education

Cultural historian Robert Darnton, Harvard University librarian and professor, visited campus this week to deliver a “Leading Voices in Higher Educationlecture about efforts to create the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), a project to make the country’s research libraries available, free of charge, over the Internet. The Leading Voices series is part of the College’s ongoing strategic planning process.

Darnton spoke with Dartmouth Now about the DPLA project after his lecture, which was also the inaugural Donoho Colloquium, sponsored by The Neukom Institute for Computational Science and the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library.

“We are trying to design a library that will last for centuries,” Darnton told a capacity crowd in Filene Auditorium on February 27. “A library without walls that will extend everywhere.”

“Dartmouth will be an important partner in this enterprise,” he said. Dartmouth is currently digitizing part of its library collection, says David Seaman, associate librarian for information management.

“The Dartmouth College Library’s digital program aims to provide excellent service to our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the global public. Already we make available historic Dartmouth photographs and films, medieval manuscripts, maps, music, books, and other archival items that enrich Dartmouth research and teaching,” Seaman says.

Those materials are available at Dartmouth Digital Library Initiatives.

Darnton is an author and editor of many books, including The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History, perhaps his most popular work, which has been translated into 17 languages. His latest book is Poetry and the Police: Communication Networks in Eighteenth-Century Paris.

Robert Darnton Treasure Room

Harvard historian, librarian, and professor Robert Darnton met with computer science graduate students over tea in the Baker Library Treasure Room during his February 27 visit to campus. (photo by Corinne Arndt Girouard)

The next speaker in the Leading Voices series is social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, who will speak Tuesday, March 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Filene Auditorium, Moore Hall. Baumeister, the Francis Eppes Professor of Psychology at Florida State University, one of the world’s leading social psychologists, known for pioneering work on the self, social rejection, sexuality, self-esteem, aggression, consciousness, and free will. He is the author of more than 30 books, most recently Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.