DPLAfest 2013: Building Community

Posted by Hillary Brady in November 7, 2013.

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A major thread throughout DPLAfest was the focus on building our communities of partners and users—many of whom were present to both celebrate their involvement with the DPLA and learn new ways to expand on that relationship. There was also a hands-on component that helped interested organizations not yet part of the DPLA network become involved.

This important community thread began as part of the October 24 kick-off festivities, upon the announcement of several new service hubs joining the DPLA. Our partners and users—both those in attendance and those following along on Twitter or through the conference live notes—also informed a variety of community-centric discussions during the workshops on October 25. In Digital Hubs How-To, the DPLA Content team and Hubs leaders walked participants through the process of contributing to the DPLA and offered insight into the benefits and challenges of becoming a hub. There was also a focus on emerging opportunities through our DPLA Reps program, which uses volunteers to help spread the word about the DPLA in their own communities.

The local use of the DPLA was another important focus of several workshops. DPLA in the Classroom explored the idea of teachers using DPLA with their students, with breakout sessions on K-12 and Higher Education. This session emphasized the importance of connecting with students and educators and brainstormed resources that could make the DPLA more accessible to those audiences. The DPLA Local Unconference provided a space for local users to come together and brainstorm the best ways DPLA can be used to benefit local institutions and users through community events and interfaces. One idea discussed throughout the workshop was using local.dpla to create web space for community institutions that might not have otherwise been able to develop their own platforms. Participants also shared ideas about how DPLA resources could help teachers and librarians tap into the new Common Core Curriculum and bring the DPLA into the classroom.

Similar topics were discussed in Focus on Community: Enhancing Community Contributions to, and Use of, the DPLA. This workshop gave participants the opportunity to discuss how the DPLA, its users, and its supporters can engage with new, diverse communities and enhance local contributions. A focal point of this discussion was the grant the DPLA received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help fund digital training for local librarians. Participants discussed the importance of diversity (in many forms) to the DPLA’s content and outreach strategies and emphasized the development of DPLA resources to bridge knowledge gaps about digital collections.

Beyond the DPLA’s relationships with its national and local partners, the International Relationships workshop discussed the DPLA’s participation in an international network of cultural heritage projects. These potential connections included relationships with Europeana, the Trove National Library of Australia, New Zealand’s Digital Library, the International Federation of Library Associations and the National Digital Library of Finland. As a part of a global network, participants agreed, DPLA could help build its audience and collaborate in developing  standards and best practices that would facilitate interoperability and partnered initiatives.

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