DPLA January 2021 newsletter

By Kathleen Williams, January 21, 2021.

On January 15th, at our Open Board + Community meeting, we hosted a community conversation, Reckoning with Our Pasts + Planning Our Futures, about working to live up to our common commitments to equity and inclusion in 2021 and beyond. Thanks to DPLA board member Elaine Westbrooks, Cecily Marcus of the University of Minnesota and Minnesota Digital Library, DPLA’s Director of Community Engagement Shaneé Yvette Murrain, Marcia Walker-McWilliams of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and Penelope Shumaker of the State Library of Ohio and Ohio Digital Network for taking part in this frank, actionable, and inspiring conversation. A recording is available here.

Wikimedia Project Update

  • DPLA has uploaded 1.4 million image files from 7 partners, which encompass more than 200 individual institutions, to Wikimedia Commons since the project began less than a year ago. DPLA’s contributions to Wikimedia Commons in 2020 have now become the largest batch of uploads ever made to Wikimedia Commons from a single contributor, and it’s still increasing!
  • Items from DPLA have received nearly 10 million views on Wikimedia in total, and receive around 2.5 million views per month. 
  • The DPLA partners that are now contributing artifacts to Wikimedia Commons via the DPLA pipeline include the National Archives and Records Administration, Ohio Digital Network, Indiana Memory, Digital Commonwealth, Plains to Peaks Collective, The Portal to Texas History, Digital Library of Georgia, and North Carolina Digital Heritage Center.
  • Working with Wikipedia is an attention-grabbing way of opening up your collections to public access! Over the last month, we uploaded more than 8,000 historical photographs from Boston Public Library. BPL crafted a press release for the occasion (which you can read here), and it landed them coverage in The Boston Globe (see article here). 
  • We have begun harvesting assets for the project from partners who provide IIIF manifest URLs. IIIF (or international image interoperability framework) is a set of standards for image APIs which allow consumers like DPLA to programmatically retrieve assets associated with a DPLA item. You may  be able to provide us  with IIIF manifest URLs for your items, whether you are a hub that has implemented IIIF yourself, or if your institutions are hosting their content in several of the most common collections management systems, such as CONTENTdm. Note, IIIF is not required for this project, and hubs can provide direct links to assets as well!

If you’d like to learn more about how your institution can increase discovery and use by contributing to Wikimedia or have any questions, please get in touch

Upcoming Events

Network Brown Bag: Continuing the Conversation on Discoverability

Thursday, January 21, 2021, 1 – 1:45 pm ET

Hosts: Christine Kim, Brian Tingle, Adrian Turner from California Digital Library

Continuing the conversation from previous Network Brown Bags, this session will highlight work that the California Digital Library’s Calisphere team has been conducting to assess usage and discoverability via Google of content available in Calisphere –and strategies that the team is formulating and implementing to facilitate broader access. Please register here.

DPLA at ALA Midwinter Virtual

We’ll be presenting two sessions at ALA Midwinter, January 22-26, 2021: 

News You Can Use: DPLA: Equity, Inclusion, and 2021

Symposium: Black Women’s Suffrage Digital Collection: Insights + Challenges

Find out more here

SimplyE and Digital Resource Solutions During the Second Wave

Wednesday, January 27, at 3 pm ET

We are teaming up with EveryLibrary Institute to present this free webinar about how SimplyE can help libraries maximize access to ebooks. The webinar will include insights from our partners at Alameda County Library and Brooklyn Public Library about how they are using SimplyE to improve the patron experience. Please register here. 

DPLAfest + Members’ Day

DPLAFest and Members’ Day will be virtual this year, and will be held in May 2021. This year’s theme will be “Transformation Through Community.” Dates and more details coming soon.

Calling all hubs! Would you like to host an upcoming network brown bag? If you have a topic or theme you’d like to discuss with your colleagues around the network, let us know! 

How are People Using DPLA?

“The group that I work with has been learning about exploration and discovery of the “new world”. We found your page when we were looking for information about the Dutch settlement of New York. It was helpful! My group wanted to thank you for your information and wanted me to contact you to pass along the message, so thank you!” Jennifer, history tutor

Yesterday my oldest came home telling me she was assigned a history paper and they had to pick different influential women from history to write about. After a little bit of talking, I made a deal with her that if she got a majority of it done by dinner, I would do her laundry. I don’t understand how their clothing accumulates so fast, haha.

About an hour and a half before dinner was done, Kelsey came over with her laptop and asked for a little bit [of help] finding some more facts and information on Civil War nurse Clara Barton. With the name not ringing a bell I jumped online and found your American Red Cross page which was a great start for the both of us and had some information she didn’t know yet. While she was taking notes, I decided to look somewhere else to see what I could find. Pretty quickly I came across a page designated to her that teaches about life, all her accomplishments, and how she paved the way for females and nurses today. Kelsey said it would be great in your section! If you wanted to take a look. Between both pages, Kelsey was able to add another page to her paper, while adding an extra amount of detail to the other paragraphs. Thank you for all the help, it was fun taking a break and learning with her. We appreciate it! – Kelly Anne (Mom) and Kelsey (Daughter) 

“Just read the Fredrick Douglas speech at the unveiling of the Freedmen’s Monument. Thank You!”Carolyn, attorney and teacher

For several years I’ve been researching and writing about why Pancho Villa may have tried to kill my grandfather, Sam Ravel, when Villa’s army raided the American town of Columbus, New Mexico in 1916. Here’s an essay I wrote about it. I’m in the midst of adapting the essay into a documentary film, and was delighted to find several photographs of Pancho Villa in DPLA, housed at UC Riverside. As is common with research like this about a famous person, there are some photos that repeatedly appear online and in print. But these four are new to me, so I’m excited to be able to use them in the film to offer some different views of Villa. As you can now understand, I have first-hand knowledge of what a wonderful resource is DPLA! (If you are on Instagram, you can follow my film’s progress here.) – Stacy, marketer and documentary filmmaker

Hub Network News


In 2020, Recollection Wisconsin undertook a gap analysis to understand current collection coverage and identify collection growth and partnership development opportunities. We worked with educators to analyze search expectations and conducted a collection-level metadata review to understand gaps and strengths in topics, formats and date coverage. View the final report.

Ohio Digital Network

The State Library of Ohio has awarded over $29,000 in Metadata Mini-Grants to empower five libraries, one museum, and one cultural heritage organization to prepare their collections for the Ohio Digital Network and DPLA. Libraries of all types, museums, and cultural heritage organizations were eligible to apply for a State Library Metadata Mini-Grant for up to $4,999 in federal LSTA funds. The awarded funds may be used to pay metadata contractors, vendors, or obtain other services (including digitization) needed to ensure their collections meet the ODN and DPLA metadata application profile guidelines. Read more here

Los Angeles Public Library

We invited everyone in Los Angeles to submit text and/or images which record their experiences during the pandemic. Previously called the “Safer at Home” initiative, its scope encompassses all the ways COVID-19 has affected us, and what it has taught us about hope and resilience in a very dark time. View the submission page or watch a video about the archive. We have a selection of submissions that are now available on Tessa, our digital platform, with more to come this new year.

The Octavia Lab, LAPL’s makerspace which only opened its doors to the public in June 2019, did a sharp pivot from making to manufacturing. While our doors were closed, we 3D printed parts for and created face shields for the local medical community, and created lasting and important partnerships with LACI, the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator as well as enlisting the help of volunteer printers, donors, and so much more. Please watch the documentary we prepared here.

And, here’s how we are making our building accessible while staying safe. 

Sunshine State Digital Network

The three-part series on Conscious Editing presented by the SSDN in fall 2020 is now available on demand! You can find more information, links to recordings, and supplemental materials here. In support of the series, the Sunshine State Digital Network Metadata Working Group has compiled a list of resources related to conscious editing and anti-oppressive metadata practices. The list includes resources related to bias in library & archival description, inclusive metadata, re-description projects, and best practices and resources for describing materials by and about marginalized peoples. It is not intended to be a comprehensive list, but rather a starting point for metadata creators and catalogers to discover resources on this topic. Find out more.

Digital Library of Georgia

Eight institutions (and nine projects) are recipients of the eighth set of service grants awarded in a program intended to broaden partner participation in the DLG. The DLG solicited proposals for historic digitization projects in a statewide call, and applicants submitted proposals for projects with a cost of up to $7,500.00. DLG staff will provide free digitization, metadata, and hosting services so that more of Georgia’s diverse history can be found online free. This subgranting program was presented the 2018 Award for Excellence in Archival Program Development by a State Institution by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council (GHRAC). Find out more. 

In addition, planning is underway for a virtual partner event April 6-8. The event will take place over three afternoons and include presentations, a partner showcase, lightning talks, and breakout discussion groups. The program is under development and curated by a committee of DLG partner representatives.

National Archives and Records Administration

Last November, the National Archives and Records Administration released the Bureau of Indian Affairs Photographs Finding Aid, which provides an intuitive interface to explore over 18,000 photographs from the Bureau of Indian Affairs by Tribal Nation, state, or topic.  You can learn more about the product in the AOTUS Blog and a South Dakota Public Broadcasting interview with NARA staff.

In the AOTUS Blog, the Archivist of the United States recently highlighted NARA’s strategic goal to maximize the agency’s value to the nation by promoting use of its data.  The post explains the goal, NARA’s success in meeting it, and the impact sharing data and includes a list of platforms using NARA data, including DPLA.  

In Case You Missed It

The Metadata Working Group has introduced an expanded Statement on Potentially Harmful Content. Read more about their efforts in this blog post from MWG co-chairs Teresa Hebron (Mountain West Digital Library) and Penelope Shumaker (Ohio Digital Library)

Upcoming Network Meetings

The next DPLA Network Council Meeting is February 2, 2021, 1:30-3 pm ET

The Advisory Council will meet February 4, 20201, 3 – 4:30 pm ET 

To keep up with each council’s work, check out the running agendas. 

DPLA Advisory Council Running Agenda 

DPLA Network Council Running Agenda