DPLA kicks off Strategic Visioning Process

By John Bracken, August 21, 2023.

Dear Friends of DPLA, 

This summer I’ve given updates on our work at the ALA Annual Conference in June and at last month’s DPLA Open Board + Community Meeting. I shared a summary of where we’ve been, talked about what we are working on now, and previewed where we are headed. For the latter, we shared that DPLA would soon begin a strategic visioning process. As the summer comes to a close, I’m excited to share with you our plans for this process. 

We think the time is right to revisit the broadbased set of conversations across the country in 2011 and 2012  that helped formulate DPLA’s first decade of work. These convenings brought together public and research librarians, technologists, educators, digital humanists, and others  “to scope, design, and construct DPLA.” We’ve experienced a lot of change since then—generative artificial intelligence, the scourge of mis- and disinformation, broad civic tensions, and attempts to block access to information have all become much more prevalent. Given that and so many other changes, we see the need to reimagine our roles and responsibilities for our next decade.

We’re taking on this work in three stages, beginning with a reflection on the three areas of work outlined in our strategic plan launched in 2019

  • Making material from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions available to all; 
  • Providing a library-controlled platform for libraries to purchase, organize, and deliver ebooks; and 
  • Convening library leaders and practitioners to explore and advance technologies that serve, inform, and empower their communities. 

We will begin next month with a review of our work aggregating digital material. DPLA board members Joshua Frazier-Sparks, Joe Lucia, and Marcia Walker-McWilliams will help guide the process, which will result in a set of recommendations to the full DPLA Board in early 2024. This review, which will be facilitated by Sarah Lutman at 8 Bridges Workshop, will include interviews with key stakeholders and other field leaders, meetings with our Working Groups, conversations with our Network Council, and our Open Board + Community meeting on October 16th. We will continue to share more about the process as it progresses. 

We plan to begin the second stage of our visioning process next year with a broad review of libraries’ role in contributing to a 21st century American democracy. The final stage of our process will be to implement a new strategy to address the needs and opportunities we’ve identified. 

We begin open-minded, with no fixed end point in mind. I’m confident that with your participation we will develop a plan for fulfilling our mission of ensuring access to knowledge for all. 

Thank you for all your support—if you have any questions about the upcoming visioning process, or any other aspect of our work, please let me know at bracken@dp.la. 

Yours truly,

John S. Bracken

Executive Director, DPLA