By Jennifer Howard. This past spring, after years of hopeful talk, the idea of a U.S. national digital library took the leap into reality. The early signs are promising. After only seven months, the Digital Public Library of America, or DPLA, serves as the central link in an expanding network of cultural institutions that want to make their holdings more visible to the public. It has attracted financial support from foundations and government agencies, among them the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and, mostly recently, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. And it's begun to attract not only users in search of far-flung information but also developers who want to build new tools and applications on its open-source platform. More...