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Content and Scope

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This workstream will make recommendations for a collection development policy for the DPLA. One primary goal is to begin to identify and articulate the criteria for including materials in a proposed DPLA. This workstream will also confront questions regarding management of and access to distributed materials. This track is focused on issues such as case studies of key collections, bibliographic data, metadata, interoperability and international cooperation. We will explore the intrinsic features of digitized content and their interrelations, as well as questions regarding management of and access to distributed materials. Other areas for research may include an investigation of how many books and other materials exist in U.S. libraries, their degree of overlap and copyright status, analyses of already-digitized collections in the U.S. and abroad.

Meetings and notes


Big issues: How much content do we need in order to get to critical mass? Even if we start with public domain materials, getting to in-copyright materials will be essential if this is to be a "public" enterprise. Some specific collections, including government documents (e.g., in Michigan), could be a way to add value quickly with some useful content. We need to learn from Europeana and other projects that have come before or are ongoing, both successes and failures, in terms of content acquisition among many other issues. We must distinguish between the idea of libraries, and what they do, and collections. And we must also carve out things we are not seeking to do with respect to content (i.e., preservation).


Rachel Frick, Digital Library Federation, CLIR

Amy E. Ryan, Boston Public Library


Marguerite Avery, MIT Press

Rich Cherry, Balboa Park

Susan Chun, Independent Research and Consultant

Jill Cousins, Europeana Foundation

Robin Dale, Digital & Preservation Services/LYRASIS

Glen Hoptman, Executive Producer of "Dinner Party with History"

Theresa Horner, Barnes and Noble

Bob Horton, Publications and Collections/Minnesota Historical Society

Heather Joseph, SPARC

Betsy Kruger, Digital Content Creation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dwight McInvaill, Georgetown County Library (South Carolina)

Stephen Rhind-Tutt, Alexander Street Press, LLC

James Shulman, ARTstor

Ronald E. Wheeler, University of San Francisco School of Law

Jeremy York, HathiTrust


Jena Winberry, Digital Library Federation, CLIR

Potential Content

We asked a group of colleagues to begin naming collections that might or should be available through a DPLA. This list is for discussion! Please feel free to add and comment.

Analysis of Digitized Works

June Casey, Curriculum Specialist/Faculty Services Librarian at the Harvard Law School Library, has compiled an extensive Analysis of Digitized Works that examines existing digital collections in terms of the types of content they offer, their legal restrictions, the technology they use, their funding type, and more. Please feel free to add and comment.

Questions for Discussion

Please feel free to add new questions to this list, either by creating an account or by emailing with your additions.

Special thanks to Maura Marx for developing an initial list of discussion questions.

Please add your comments and recommendations for key lines of inquiry.

  • What are the two or three most interesting issues or questions that should be confronted in this research track?
  • How can we leverage the work of scholarly societies and those with subject-matter expertise to help curate the collection and shape the tools? Should this really be Google's shelf by shelf model or might there be an opportunity to create various collections within the collection?
  • How can the curation process take advantage of the knowledge of librarians and other professional curators, while also being open to the broad public? If it is open to the public, how can the DPLA avoid becoming filled with spam and crazy cr*p?

Suggested Resources

Please feel free to add resources and new categories to this list, either by creating an account or by emailing with your additions.

March 1, 2011 Workshop

On March 1, 2011, the Berkman Center convened a group of participants from public and research libraries, government agencies, publishers, and private industry for a day-long workshop focused on the content and scope of a proposed Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Participants were invited to explore intrinsic features of specific types of content and their interrelations and to consider questions of how to deal with vendors and materials under various types of restrictions. The goal of this initial meeting was to make an important contribution to the overarching goal of the initiative: to work towards a shared vision of a DPLA and a set of prioritized next steps. The workshop notes highlight a selection of central discussion points and questions; we hope that these takeaways will serve as input into future discussions about a potential DPLA.

Membership Sign-up

All workstream members should join the DPLA Content & Scope Workstream listserv at

Please also add your name to the list below. If you would like to edit this wiki, please create an account.

  • [Name], [email address]
  • Mary Molinaro (University of Kentucky),
  • David Rothman (,
  • John Weise (University of Michigan Library),
  • Heather Christenson (California Digital Library),
  • Sarah K. Burke (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library),
  • Andrew Keck (Divinity School Library, Duke University),
  • Janel Kinlaw,
  • Michael Colford,
  • Donald M. Vorp (Princeton Theological Seminary Library),
  • Jason Buydos (Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County),
  • Marguerite Avery (MIT Press),
  • Rob Lancefield (Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University),
  • Jana Bradley (University of Arizona School of Information Resources and Library Science), janabrad14[at]
  • Rebekah Irwin (Middlebury College),