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Bookman of the Year: Robert Darnton

As if it wasn’t enough to found a field, Robert Darnton might just be on the verge of creating a national digital public library. His latest update in the NY Review indicates that he is well on his way to guiding a digital library into existence. Because it will be a private undertaking, and not involving the federal government (so far), it will likely start small and take time to grow. But because it will be a non-profit private undertaking it will not be undercut by all the shortcuts and bad decisions that have beset Google Books.

I still can’t believe the U.S. government is so short-sighted, and so beholden to corporate models of creativity, that it hasn’t taken up the reins to create a digitized Library of Congress. But such are the times we live in. And Robert Darnton is certainly someone who has figured out how to make major achievements in such an environment.

It can’t be said enough: this is one of the great accomplishments not just of the year, but of the new decade, if not the budding century.