On Monday 5th December 2011, Professor Robert Darnton, Director of Harvard University Library, delivered Cardiff University’s Distinguished Lecture on the subject of Jefferson’s Taper and the Future of Books; this was one of Cardiff University’s high-profile Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings eminent and influential guest speakers to the University to showcase their work to a wider audience. A leading cultural historian who is internationally recognised for his research into books, digital scholarship and French cultural history, Professor Darnton’s lecture illuminated the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America.
Before his lecture Professor Darnton visited Special Collections and Archives to see some of our special library collections, and talked with Humanities academics who are working with some of these historical rare books sources, including Dr Melanie Bigold’s work on Restoration Drama texts, and Professor Judi Loach’s work with our 19th and 20th century Private Press collections. He was also shown works on the French Revolution from our Salisbury Library Welsh collections, including a 1795 description of the Revolution by a lady dentist, dedicated to the Ladies of Llangollen!
Professor Darnton’s fascinating lecture outlined the major ‘public good’ that a freely accessible library of digital texts would entail for society, without the ‘pay walls’ and other restrictions of commercial publishers and Google type book monopolies. 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.
The lecture can be viewed as a videocast here: Robert Darton, Cardiff University Distinguished Lecture, 5 Dec 2011.