From Harvard to Cardiff - Distinguished Lecture Series demonstrates transatlantic similarities
9 December 2011
The latest guest presenter in Cardiff's Distinguished Lecture Series was Professor Robert Darnton, Director of Harvard University Library, who spoke about the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America.
Prof Darnton is internationally recognised as a pioneer in the field of book history. He has written extensively on the information age and its effect on the printed word, and is leading international debates on library issues, ranging from preservation and access to publishing and technology.
Prof Darnton's lecture focussed on the commercial interests exploiting digital technology, and the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America which has arisen in response to this threat and which would ensure the preservation and accessibility of digital materials.
Amongst the guests in the lecture audience were Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, and Mr Rhodri Morgan, previous First Minister / Prif Weinidog of the National Assembly for Wales.
Janet Peters, University Librarian, delivered a speech during the post-lecture reception, which explored some of the similarities and the differences in the libraries of Harvard and Cardiff Universities.
As Janet explains, "Harvard's library system, with its 73 libraries and 16.5 million volumes, is on a very different scale to Cardiff's 14 libraries and 1.4 million volumes. Despite the differences in investment and expenditure (with Harvard spending around $123m on library services, compared to Cardiff's £10.5m), both libraries issue similar numbers of items per year and share values about providing access to information and open access to research papers.
"Prof Darnton's lecture really highlights the importance of libraries the world over in long-term preservation to ensure the scholarly record and its data are preserved for future generations to freely access, and not locked away in commercial silos," continued Janet.
Colleagues from across the Information Services Directorate also supported the Distinguished Lecture Series through videostreaming the event live on the Cardiff University website and providing an archive of previous lectures.
Before his lecture, Prof Darnton visited the University's Special Collections and Archives (SCOLAR) section to view some of the historic collections, and to talk with Humanities academics who are working with some of these historical rare books sources.