ALA Midwinter 2017 Update

Posted by Dan Cohen in January 21, 2017.

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2016 was another exciting and busy year at the Digital Public Library of America, with extensive growth of our national network, the launch of an important projects to standardize rights statements, provide greater access to ebooks, curate our materials for education, and improve the technical systems our community relies upon.

DPLA continues to expand our network and collections rapidly. At present, we have over 15 million resources from 2,200 contributing institutions throughout the country. Our network is currently comprised of 17 Content Hubs and 25 Service Hubs. This year we accepted applications for new Service Hubs from Mississippi, Oklahoma, Florida, Montana and Ohio. We also announced an important partnership with the Library of Congress as a Content Hub, and saw the first of many Library of Congress collections go live in DPLA.


In addition to partnership and collection growth, DPLA was pleased to be a key partner in the launch of, standardized statements to express copyright status for digital objects. With the launch of these statements, we have asked the DPLA network to begin implementing statements in their metadata. In the coming weeks, you will begin to see these standardized statements appear in the DPLA portal and through our API. In the coming months, we will add features that will allow users to find materials based on their rights status, a critical step toward greater use and reuse.

DPLA has been thrilled with the major impact of its partnership to help in-need children to gain access to ebooks. The Open eBooks initiative announced in the fall that over 1 million books had been read by those children in just the first nine months, and hundreds of thousands of additional books have been read since then. Recently, we have just received a major grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to accelerate our efforts to provide broad access to ebooks. That work will involve a significant increase in our activities along with our partners in 2017 and beyond, something that we have begun to discuss here at ALA Midwinter.

The education-oriented part of our site has grown substantially over the last year, as has its impact. We now have 100 primary source sets of curated materials drawn from our thousands of contributing institutions, and hundreds of thousands of students and teachers have taken advantage of those sets over the past year.

Another partnership, with Stanford and DuraSpace, has pushed forward on a next-generation repository and aggregation service that should help our Hubs and many others working with cultural heritage materials. Formerly called Hydra-in-a-Box and now with the snazzier name Hyku, this Hydra-based software will see important milestones in 2017, including the first pilots with our partners.

To assist our Hubs in the on-boarding process and in continuing partnership with DPLA, Kelcy Shepherd joined the DPLA staff in August. Also in the fall Michael Della Bitta joined us as our new Director of Technology, and he has already started to streamline and accelerate some of the core technologies in our ingest process and platform. And just this week, Arielle Perry became our program assistant, helping our organization and community with logistics, communication, and event planning.

Finally, speaking of events, registration for our annual meeting of the DPLA community and those who care about maximizing access to our shared culture, DPLAfest 2017, is now open. This fourth major gathering will take place on April 20-21, 2017 in Chicago at Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center. The hosts for DPLAfest 2017 include Chicago Public Library, the Black Metropolis Research ConsortiumChicago Collections, and the Reaching Across Illinois Library System (RAILS). We do hope you join us in Chicago on the fourth anniversary of our launch!