A Look at the Empire State Digital Network

By DPLA, April 22, 2015.
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A look into the Empire State Digital Network, a DPLA Service Hubfrom ESDN Manager Kerri Willette.  


A few months ago Amy Rudersdorf, Assistant Director for Content at DPLA, contacted me for feedback on a visualization she created that illustrates the structure of the DPLA Service Hub in New York. After a few emails back and forth, we landed on this diagram of the Empire State Digital Network (ESDN).

Empire State Digital Network

This is a very accurate 2-D depiction of our hub, but I’m amazed by how simple it looks compared to the complex and layered network we have up and running in real life.

New York is home to nine library and research councils that comprise the NY3Rs Association, Inc. (NY3Rs). While it occupies its own dark blue circle in the image above, Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), home to our Service Hub, is one of the nine regional councils that make up the NY3Rs. In addition to myriad digital content hosted at individual organizations statewide (the small gray circles in the diagram), New York is also home to four large-scale collaborative digital projects. These projects are all supported and facilitated by the NY3Rs regional councils.

I moved to New York City in March 2014 to join the New York hub after spending most of my career in Chicago. I had very few professional relationships in New York when I arrived. My first few months at ESDN were a whirlwind of new acronyms, new people, and new places. Without the dedicated support and good humor of the digital services managers in each region, I would have floundered. Instead, ESDN recently made its first contribution from New York institutions to DPLA in January (almost 90,000 records!).

Our regional liaisons have been crucial in identifying and recruiting New York content for DPLA.  I think that’s why I keep coming back to the ESDN visualization: while it’s an effective representation of our hub, the true structure of our project is built on numerous relationships that we can’t even begin to capture in a single diagram. I’m speaking not just of our team’s relationships with our liaisons (although seriously, we would be NOWHERE without these nine amazing people), but more importantly, the relationships that those liaisons cultivated with Archivists and Digital Collections Librarians and Curators and Deans at institutions across the state long before ESDN arrived.

The incredible collections ESDN has contributed to DPLA so far (like this one and this one and this one), are now open to the world thanks to the years of partnerships and investments that underpin the rich digital culture of this state. The beauty of the DPLA hub model is that it assumes and relies on the value and depth of local relationships. DPLA could not exist without the vast networks of support and trust that are already alive and well in the cultural heritage community across the nation.


Featured image credit: Detail from “Women on parallel bars, Ithaca Conservatory and Affiliated Schools, Ithaca, NY.” Courtesy Ithaca College via the Empire State Digital Network.

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