The Digital Public Library of America, a project that has been in development for a few years, is now live on the Internet. The DPLA follows in the footsteps of Europeana, a similar initiative in the EU that brings together diverse collections throughout the European Union’s libraries, archives, and museums. One way of thinking about the DPLA is to see it as a super-catalog of materials spread across the contiguous United States in thousands of local, state, and federal institutions. The current “beta” version of the site already has 2+ million records aggregated from “hubs” such as the Digital Library of Georgia, Kentucky Digital Library, Minnesota Digital Library, ArtStor, Biodiversity Heritage Library, National Archives and Records Administration, New York Public Library, University of Virginia, Mountain West Digital Library, etc. Additional partners are being announced almost daily. So pump yourself up and get searching!
Here are some fun sample queries for you, relevant to our purposes:
The search interface also allows you to display your search results on a map to see where resources originate from:
Or there’s a really great timeline view as well:
Let’s use this post to discuss any discoveries you make about the platform or the kinds of content that’s available. Wahoo!
Also, here’s a great snippet about the history of the DPLA:
The vision of a national digital library has been circulating among librarians, scholars, educators, and private industry representatives since the early 1990s. Efforts led by a range of organizations, including the Library of Congress, HathiTrust, and the Internet Archive, have successfully built resources that provide books, images, historic records, and audiovisual materials to anyone with Internet access. Many universities, public libraries, and other public-spirited organizations have digitized materials, but these digital collections often exist in silos. The DPLA brings these different viewpoints, experiences, and collections together in a single platform and portal, providing open and coherent access to our society’s digitized cultural heritage.
The DPLA planning process began in October 2010 at a meeting in Cambridge, MA. During this meeting, 40 leaders from libraries, foundations, academia, and technology projects agreed to work together to create “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in current and future generations.”
In December 2010, the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, generously supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, convened leading experts in libraries, technology, law, and education to begin work on this ambitious project. A two-year process of intense grassroots community organization, beginning in October 2011 and hosted at the Berkman Center, brought together hundreds of public and research librarians, innovators, digital humanists, and other volunteers—organized into six workstreams and led by a distinguished Steering Committee—helped to scope, design, and construct the DPLA.
The DPLA is led now by Executive Director Dan Cohen and guided by a Board of Directors comprised of leading public and research librarians, technologists, intellectual property scholars, and business experts from around the country.
To view materials produced during the planning initiative, visit our Historical Materials page.
Oh, and I almost forgot to mention: the URL for the DPLA is dead simple: dp.la