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Partnering with Public Libraries

Partnering with Public Libraries

As we announced in October, DPLA has been awarded a substantial grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to pilot a digital skills training program with our Service Hubs that engages their local public librarians. I’m working on the Public Library Partnerships Project as the project manager alongside our Director for Content Emily Gore, our Assistant Director for Content Amy Rudersdorf, and collaborators at four state and regional digital libraries that are also Service Hubs for DPLA: Digital Commonwealth (in Massachusetts), the Digital Library of Georgia, Minnesota Digital Library, and Mountain West Digital Library. Through the project, we hope to reach a specific group of public librarians–those who work at public libraries with special collections content and want to share it with a larger audience but may not have the knowledge and/or resources to do so.

Charlestown, Indiana. Education, Library Services, 08/26/194, National Archives and Records Administration.

Charlestown, Indiana. Education, Library Services, 08/26/194, National Archives and Records Administration.

To lay some groundwork for a training curriculum, we’ve been in research mode for the past few months, exploring best practices released by other cultural heritage organizations and recommendations from our own staff and partners based on their expertise in providing content selection, scanning, preservation, metadata, rights, and exhibition support.  This month, we’ve started collaboratively writing the curriculum. Because sustainable relationships are an important project goal, we’ve been working together to flesh out some universal ideas (ex. writing for the web, exhibition development, and rights) as well as some important sections where Hubs take different approaches to the same part of the process (like using particular metadata standards, scanning and file formatting). By building some Hub-specific information into the curriculum, we can ensure that Hubs and public libraries are ready to hit the ground running together when the trainings are over, collaborate during exhibition development, and continue in long-term partnerships after the grant period.  We’ve also been thinking about instructional approaches for the workshops and so far have some great ideas for interactive workshop activities.

We plan to host our first trainings in late Spring, improve the curriculum using feedback from these first sessions, and offer trainings again in the summer and fall. PLPP trainings for public librarians will be free to attend. Through 12 total workshops that will reach approximately 180 public librarians, we will get plenty of feedback on it and improve it as we go. At the end of the project, we plan to release a public version for others to use.

The Hubs have also started doing outreach. So far, they’ve been gathering information within their existing networks of public libraries about how to broaden these networks to include new institutions. They’ve also been getting useful feedback about how and where to market the training and the opportunities it provides.  We’re excited to support their outreach plans as they develop. Once they begin taking applications for the workshops (in Massachusetts, Georgia, Minnesota, and Utah), we’ll be sure to publicize those opportunities through DPLA as well.

Through PLPP, more public library content will appear in DPLA. Although the quality and sustainability of relationships between DPLA, Hubs, and public libraries is the bigger project priority, we will also be happy to grow our number of public library partners (currently at about 14% which includes large public libraries with robust digital services).

As the project develops, we’ll be posting more updates about the DPLA blog about our progress.  For more information and an overview of the Public Library Partnerships Project, please visit our project page. 


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