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Dispatches from Midwinter – Digital Public Library of America Update

by on February 21, 2013

Preparing for an April 18th launch, the Digital Public Library of America was present at the 2013 ALA Midwinter meeting to present some of the updates on its project. If you’ve never heard of DPLA, it is a digitization project that plans to create a national digital library where patrons can access materials from across the nation in a digital format. Whereas many libraries and organizations already have an existing digitization project, DPLA is a project that plans to centralize and streamline the process of digitization for the parties that might not already be involved.

DPLA will collect metadata on materials that have already been digitized and categorize it in one place that will be freely available. They will also add original content from orphan works and out-of-print materials. The content that DPLA hopes to collect include photos, manuscripts, books, newspapers, oral histories, videos, audio and more in digital format.

Beginning with the Digital Hubs Project that was launched in Sept. 2012, DPLA has chosen seven Service Hubs from which metadata can be collected from libraries, museums and archives. Each Service Hub will have the ability to help these organizations if they need help with digitization, standardizing metadata, storage problems, or reaching out to their community for additional materials for digitization. The seven Service Hubs will be organizations that are currently doing digitization projects.  They are the Mountain West Digital Library, Digital Commonwealth, Digital Library of Georgia, Kentucky Digital Library, Minnesota Digital Library, South Carolina Digital Library, and the Oregon Digital Library.

The Service Hubs will be able to collect content from many state and local organizations, but DPLA will also work with Content Hubs, current digital libraries that will provide DPLA with additional metadata of their digital content. The only Content Hub that is confirmed right now is Harvard, but DPLA is in talks with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), NYPL, ARTstor and the Smithsonian.

For the launch in April, Service Hubs are expected to host an exhibition of digital objects, such as an exhibition on prohibition at the Kentucky Digital Library and an exhibition on activism and civil rights at the Digital Library of Georgia. DPLA is working with iFactory to build a website for anyone to access DPLA, but the API is available for those who would like to build their own applications. They hope to have 3 million records by the time of the launch.

As for the time being, they have been working with Europeana Data Model (EDM) to work on ways to make all the complex data operate in a cohesive way in a linked open data environment. They hope to release more information about their new metadata model recommendations soon. They have also just received confirmation that they will have a fellow from the American Council of Learned Societies Public Fellows Program to work with them on the project.

Please contact Emily Gore or Amy Rudersdorf if your library would like to contribute to the project or visit http://dp.la/.