“Bound by love in one volume”: DPLAfest 2017

By DPLA, May 8, 2017.
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This guest post was submitted by DPLAfest Travel Awardee Nicole Umayam.

It’s no stretch to call the DPLA community a best-case scenario of librarian, archivist, developer, scholar, and educator collaboration. I was initially interested in attending DPLAfest to learn more about preparing digital collections for linked open data, and as I investigated the programming more I was pleased to find that social justice and inclusive community engagement was as much a priority as innovative app development and metadata best practices. By the end of the opening plenary, I knew that I was in the right place: the introduction of the DPLA Values Statement and the on-stage roundtable “Telling Stories of Who We Are” confirmed for me that the DPLA community doesn’t just talk the talk—they are driven by a commitment to access, diversity, and collaboration.

DPLAfest plenary panelists discuss approaches to “Telling Stories of Who We Are.” Photo by Ron Gould.

After the welcome, I made my way up the many escalators of the Harold Washington Library Center to listen to a great presentation on institutional collaboration to enhance local authority data in Nevada, then back down to hear about using computational linguistic tools to enhance discoverability of media collections—so very exciting to learn about speech-to-text tools’ potential for processing audio collections. Then I heard about developing interoperable IIIF-compliant tools to support humanities scholars. Bolintineanu and Di Cresce’s use of Dante to bookend the discussion was a precise description of both the project and of DPLA’s mission to provide conscientious stewardship of digital cultural heritage: “In Its depths I saw contained, / bound by love in one volume, / the scattered leaves of all the universe.” (Paradiso, Canto XXXIII). To end the day, I sat in on the RightsStatements.org update and panel discussion of rights standardization projects.

I began day two by telling a cautionary tale of digital junk drawers with my co-presenters, Greta Bahnemann and Ryan Ehrfurth.  Next, I participated in the workshop to identify and strategize inclusive metadata and description where many of the workshop participants were in the position of being aware of the need for inclusive and culturally sensitive language in their respective digital heritage collections but not knowing where to start. It was energizing to walk away from the workshop with some immediately actionable items. I ended the day listening to the panel on digital library collaborations and imagining what possibilities the DPLA community will forge next.  

I am grateful for the support of DPLA in helping me to attend the conference and leave with new ideas and goals. Thank you so much to the hardworking staff of DPLAfest for putting on a wonderful event!