L'historien Robert Darnton, spécialiste des Lumières, en appelle à la création aux États-Unis d'une bibliothèque numérique nationale (NDL). L'idée est simple : "The NDL would make the cultural patrimony of this country freely available to all of its citizens. It would be the digital equivalent of the Library of Congress, but instead of being confined to Capitol Hill, it would exist everywhere, bringing millions of books and other digitized material within clicking distance of public libraries, high schools, junior colleges, universities, retirement communities, and any person with access to the Internet."

"Avons-nous la volonté de le faire ?" se demande Robert Darnton, pour qui il s'agit avant tout d'une question de principe. "The ambition behind this project goes back to the founding of this country. Thomas Jefferson formulated it succinctly: “Knowledge is the common property of mankind.” He was right—in principle. But in practice, most of humanity has been cut off from the accumulated wisdom of the ages. […] The danger of restricting access to knowledge is as great today as it was two hundred years ago. Here is a copyright notice attached to a recent electronic edition of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865:

"Copy: No text selections can be copied from the book to the clipboard….
Lend: This book cannot be lent to someone else.
Give: This book cannot be given to someone else.
Read aloud: This book cannot be read aloud."

Contrast that statement, made only yesterday, with the following remarks by Voltaire after the publication of his Questions sur l’Encyclopédie in 1772: “It is hereby permitted to any bookseller to [re]print my silliness, be it true or false, at his risk, peril, and profit.""

Cette "République des lettres" à laquelle Robert Darnton songe verra-t-elle le jour ? "We can equip the smallest junior college in Alabama and the remotest high school in North Dakota with the greatest library the world has ever known. We can open that library to the rest of the world, exercising a kind of “soft power” that will increase respect for the United States worldwide. By creating a National Digital Library, we can make our fellow citizens active members of an international Republic of Letters, and we can strengthen the bonds of citizenship at home."

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Source : The New York Review of Books, 04/10/10