Service Hub Application

Service Hub Application


The Digital Public Library of America seeks applicants to serve as Service Hubs in DPLA’s growing national network. Applicants should be ready to begin working with DPLA staff immediately following the selection process to formalize the partnership and begin the process of ingesting metadata.

Applications are accepted at any time on the condition that the applicants have already met with DPLA content staff ( Currently, institutions in approximately one third of the United States have some sort of on-ramp to DPLA. This program will continue to advance our goal of creating a pathway for participation in all fifty states and the District of Columbia by 2017.

The current DPLA Service Hub network is made up of collaborations of all shapes and sizes. There is no one-size-fits-all model for Service Hubs development, but there are some emerging trends including the sharing of resources, roles and responsibilities—one institution does not need to provide all of the services. For example, in South Carolina, the Service Hub is a based on a division of labor among three institutions that each serve the cultural heritage institutions in their region. One of the partners provides the aggregation and metadata services, while the other partners concentrate on outreach, project management, partner development, digitization services, etc. All three play an equal role in administration and governance.

In addition to shared services, nearly all of the current Service Hubs provide a repository/delivery system that allows cultural heritage institutions that don’t have the capacity to purchase or host their own system to share their digital content. That centralized repository becomes an aggregation node and the metadata within it is merged with data from other individually hosted repositories that are run by single institutions, consortia, or collaboratives.

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 2.56.42 PMService Hub responsibilities

Service Hubs play a variety of important roles in the DPLA network. Together, the organizations that serve as the administrative body (as in the South Carolina example above) connect their partners of all sizes and backgrounds to DPLA and the broader global environment. They bring together metadata that resolves to digital objects (online texts, photographs, manuscript material, artwork, etc.) from libraries, historical societies, archives, museums and other cultural heritage institutions participating in their network, often hosting these resources locally, as well as sharing the metadata and content previews (thumbnails, etc.) through DPLA. Service Hubs standardize the metadata so that it conforms to a single structure that can be shared with DPLA through one data feed. They are committed to working with the DPLA on behalf of their geographic region. [1]

Beyond these, Service Hub networks often perform various other activities on behalf of their partners, including, but by no means limited to:

  • Digitization, long-term storage, and preservation;
  • Metadata assistance (quality assurance, normalization, standardization, and enhancement);
  • Engagement in challenges around aggregation locally and with other Hubs in the DPLA network;
  • Technology and tools development; and
  • Professional development and community outreach.

Service Hubs are structured in many ways and participate in DPLA activities and research at varying levels. Existing Service Hubs are administered by academic institutions, museums, state libraries, library consortia, and often a combination of these. Many represent hundreds of partners. No matter the partnership model, however, each Service Hub commits to the following.

  1. Representing their community (state, region, etc.) as the point of contact for DPLA and obtaining community buy-in on significant issues affecting their partners.
  2. Aggregating their partners’ metadata into a single standard and sharing it with DPLA through one harvestable data source.
  3. Actively addressing metadata concerns (including copyright and licensing labeling) and working with partners on timely remediation.
  4. Providing outreach to their partners, and with DPLA staff, developing local practitioners’ capacity on topics such as open data, data quality and standards, copyright and licensing, and other relevant subjects.
  5. Maintaining technologies (such as OAI-PMH, API, ResourceSync, etc.) that allow for standardized metadata to be shared with the DPLA on a regular, consistent basis.
  6. Engaging with the broader community of data creators, providers, and users, locally and nationally.

Selection criteria

Applications should be completed as fully as possible, and contain sufficient details for DPLA to understand administrative responsibilities, partnership structure, technology infrastructure and data workflows, and governance and funding models. DPLA is particularly interested in how institutions of all sizes and backgrounds are (or will be) represented in the local partnership, and how and when the Service Hub will create an on ramp for any institution interested in participating. Finally, a strong application will include details about how the organizations that lead the Service Hub will be dedicated to community engagement, promoting use and reuse of the network’s digital collections, and to developing a community of practice with their partners.

What happens after selection?

New Service Hubs will be notified of acceptance and provided with an informational packet that contains several documents, including the following:

  1. Data Exchange Agreement (DAE). This binding document must be signed before DPLA can ingest a Service Hub’s metadata. It typically takes about a month to complete this process. If the document is not signed within a month, other new Service Hubs will be granted priority of service from DPLA staff.
  2. Metadata, Tech, and Content Information form. This document provides the DPLA data and technology staff with information they need to begin working with a new Service Hub’s metadata.

Once both of these forms are completed, it typically takes four to eight weeks (depending on the current state and complexity of a Service Hub’s metadata) for the new collection to move to production.


View Service Hub Application Questions


[1] For inquiries about forming Content Hubs, please contact