December 15, 2014: Open Board Call

By DPLA, December 9, 2014.
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The DPLA Board of Directors will hold an open call on Monday, December 15, at 3:00 PM Eastern. Agenda and dial-in information is included below.


Public Session

  • What’s coming in early 2015
  • Update from Executive Director
  • Questions and comments from the public

Executive Session

  • Voice approval of strategic plan
  • Review of draft tax return
  • Update on nominating subcommittee
  • Update on current grant activities


Present: Robert Darnton, Luis Herrera, Paul Courant, Amy Ryan, Laura DeBonis, John Palfrey, Siva Vaidhyanathan, DPLA staff, members of the public

Absent: Cathy Casserly, Jamie Hollier

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John Palfrey, President of the Board, commenced the call at 3:02 PM Eastern.

Public session

Executive Director update and what’s coming in early 2015

Cohen began with a preview of DPLA’s efforts in fall 2014. The technology and content teams put new ingestion on hiatus over the fall to focus on needed technical improvements. DPLA is moving to a new open source ingestion system that will make their work more modular and efficient. Cohen also reported that DPLA successfully migrated to a new hosting provider.

The DPLA content team released a new application process for potential hubs, based on new funding from the IMLS. This application process will allow DPLA to better communicate the requirements of serving as a DPLA hub and what organizations might expect, making the onboarding process more rigorous and less ad hoc. Cohen said that the application process was designed to make ensure that every state has a service hub in the future. The group is looking forward to bringing on new hubs as part of these applications in spring 2014; the current plan is to onboard 4 – 6 new hubs every six months.

In the fall, DPLA ran two education-oriented focus groups to discuss their needs, tools, and uses of DPLA. Cohen described some of the key points that came from these discussions, including potential new work areas around content curation and other user-focused resources. Project Manager Franky Abbott is crunching feedback from those two sessions and is in the process of preparing a white paper outlining findings and recommendations. DPLA will likely prepare additional grants to follow up on this stream of educational work. Cohen and Abbott also recently presented at a couple of major education conferences.

Lastly, DPLA concluded its first GIF IT UP, an international competition co-run with DigitalNZ to find the best GIFs reusing public domain and openly licensed digital video, images, text, and other material available via our search portals. The winners of the competition were recently announced.

Turning to the new year, Cohen highlighted DPLAfest 2015, the two-day event run by DPLA taking place on April 17-18, 2015 in Indianapolis.

Questions and comments from the public

Robert Darnton asked about the development of new hubs. Is a digitized collection in a state without a service hub able to get involved in DPLA as a content hub? Cohen said that there are two types of applications: one for content hubs and one for service hubs.

Luis Herrera said that he was particularly impressed with the education and outreach component of DPLA’s work. He expressed interest in the forthcoming education white paper and he underscored the outreach end of this education-focused work, which Cohen echoed.

Palfrey asked Cohen to speak briefly to the strategic plan and how DPLA’s outreach strategy fits into the organization’s larger objectives. Cohen said that DPLA is first and foremost seeking to “complete the map” of service hubs in the United States. The technical work completed in fall 2014 will allow DPLA to ramp up this work in 2015. The work of completing the map will allow DPLA to pinpoint where exactly key item types are missing from the collection, such as moving images and other audiovisual materials, ebooks, and others. In terms of education, Cohen underscored the importance of completing a roadmap, seeking funding, and, following that, disseminating outputs.

Darnton asked about newspapers, which are mentioned in the forthcoming strategic plan. Darnton pointed out the Library of Congress’ rich collection of digitized newspapers; he has spoken with Library of Congress representatives who are interested in contributing. Cohen praised the Library of Congress’ work in this area and highlighted a recent conversation he had at the National Endowment for Humanities in which similar support was expressed. The staff is looking into employing current techniques to aggregate caches of digitized newspaper content, and Cohen believes they will accelerate this work in the coming year following more extensive planning.

Katherine Lynch (Temple University) asked about the makeup of the forty prospective hub candidates that are currently in conversation with DPLA. Cohen said that it was a healthy mix of service and content hubs.

Palfrey then provided a brief update regarding Board operations since the last Board call in September. The DPLA Bylaws were amended to accommodate two new Board members, bringing the overall tally to eleven members. Palfrey and Casserly’s term will expire in June 2015, so a Nominating Sub-committee is currently seeking two replacements as well as two additional members. Palfrey also said that the process for nominating a new Board chair is underway and that a vote will take place in the call’s executive session.

Palfrey paused for additional comments or questions as part of the public session.

One member of the public asked about the biggest resistance to expanding the hubs network. Cohen said that DPLA is structured well to complete the map. There are funding needs to do this work, Cohen said, but DPLA is in the process of finding that funding ($1 million has already been put forth by the IMLS). In general, DPLA has learned that there are, in fact, different models for different states. The staff is still working through the range of optimal models and how to make these work in each state given their various background and capacities.

Palfrey adjourned the public session at 3:31 PM Eastern.

Executive Session

  • Voice approval of strategic plan
  • Review of draft tax return
  • Update on nominating subcommittee
  • Update on current grant activities