This guest post was submitted by DPLAfest Travel Awardee Valerie Hawkins. Follow Valerie on Twitter at @LibrariesVal.
It was really a joy to be able to attend the 2017 DPLAfest in my hometown of Chicago, right at the Harold Washington Library Center, which I’ve been visiting since it opened a few decades ago. Still, this was the first time I was able to walk into the Winter Garden on the top floor. And it was there that I got to shake the hand of Dan Cohen, the outgoing DPLA executive director.
It was also there that I got to meet and talk with those involved with various library materials digitization projects across the country, including fellow 2017 DPLAfest Travel Awardees. And I was pleasantly surprised to run into and catch up with several colleagues I’d not seen in a while, including Keith Michael Fiels, the outgoing American Library Association executive director.
I walked into this event knowing a few details about a smattering of collections, including Umbra Search out of the University of Minnesota Libraries, but I walked out of it with a much greater awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of digital collections near and far. It is indeed an international effort, to provide access to available books, newspapers, journals, photos, audio, video, and other archived materials online.
My only complaint is that every session listed seemed compelling and valuable and there was simply no way to attend them all, especially those happening simultaneously. I’d considered my schedule to be set in stone a few weeks ago and yet I still made last-minute changes.
But more to the point, as I mentioned in my Travel Award application, digitizing the materials is indeed just the beginning. How do you direct library users to those online materials? The 2017 DPLAfest provided many answers to that question. Universities, institutions, and organizations can feature digitized photos and other historical pieces on social media–especially if they can be tied in to a specific event or current hashtag. The LEAP SimplyE app project looks to increase the awareness and accessibility of ebooks available from libraries—starting with The New York Public Library. The Popup Picks service available through RAILS right here in Illinois provides unlimited access to a vast cross-section of ebooks direct from publishers around the world.
I want to stay up-to-date on these projects and I use social media to do that. And so now on Twitter, I’m following individuals with @LibrariesVal while adding the accounts for specific institutions and organizations to my public Library News Twitter List. This list is featured on my Libraries by LibrariesVal website and provides instantly-updated content for my TweetedTimes e-newsletter. Meanwhile, I’ve signed up for Popup Picks and I’m already reading a graphic novel from independent Rosarium Publishing, featured on the website.
These were just some of the projects that I learned about during the 2017 DPLAfest. I encourage everyone to find out more about these and others presented and discussed at the event, and I look forward to finding out about more at the next DPLAfest!