My name is Dustin Fife and I am a Library Director for a rural public library system in southeastern Utah volunteering as a DPLA Community Rep. I became interested in the Digital Public Library of America while doing research for an article that will be published in the Journal of Librarianship and Information Science later this year about public librarians and Creative Commons Zero. I searched through many open and collaborative projects to find the best examples of public libraries supporting openness. DPLA was the best example I could find and I have been slightly obsessed ever since. I signed up for the Community Reps program because I love the mission of DPLA. During my time as a community rep I have used another project of mine to support DPLA called Creative Libraries Utah (http://creativelibrariesutah.org/). Creative Libraries Utah is a website that publishes library materials and ideas with a general focus on libraries in the state of Utah. We have included links and articles about DPLA on the website. We have also hosted a podcast with the Mountain West Digital Library’s staff during which we discussed DPLA and will be hosting Franky Abbott of DPLA on a podcast in April.
The Digital Public Library of America’s Community Reps program is a great opportunity to better understand the mission and resources of DPLA. Yes, you will have the opportunity to help them build a national community through local outreach, but truthfully speaking, they helped me far more than I helped them. The program comes with training and community forums that can deepen your understanding of this amazing, and ever-growing, resource. All librarians, whether they are public, academic, special, or school, should understand DPLA as a resource that can aid them throughout their careers. Public librarians especially must become more engaged in programs and initiatives such as DPLA and stop deferring to academic librarians. As we continue our struggle for legitimacy and funding, participation in these programs and initiatives cements public librarians’ status as information professionals.
Most importantly though, participation in the Reps program is based on your interests and availability. DPLA does not expect you to treat this as a second job or internship. From what I have seen they mostly expect you to take advantage of resources that are already available to you: post on your website, do a poster session for a conference, talk to your library staff, organize a workshop for patrons, or host a podcast. They are not going to turn you away if you want to do a big, involved outreach campaign, but that is not what is expected of you either. This is an amazing resource and we all need to spread the word, not only to support DPLA, but also to inspire other similar projects and collaborations in a society that is often locking down far too many resources.
Library Director, San Juan County
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