Improving access and discovery

By Michael Della Bitta, January 29, 2021.
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Over the last couple of weeks, the DPLA technology team and I have spent some time evaluating the progress we made in the last year, and looking ahead to how we can make the biggest impact in 2021. I wanted to take a minute to update you on steps we are taking to improve access and discovery of artifacts in the DPLA aggregation.

First, we will continue the work we are doing with Big Sky Country Digital Network to try to improve the ranking of DPLA items in web search results. We’re partnering with BSCDN’s Kenning Arlitsch, who has published extensively about libraries and SEO. Together, we are exploring whether showing full-frame versions of the images in the DPLA aggregation on the item detail pages will result in more of these items being indexed by Google and findable in web searches. Experiments such as this are important for us to figure out how to best find audiences for the items our network partners contribute to DPLA.

Second, we will prototype a model that would allow for DPLAlocal users to curate exhibitions similar to those already available on This may be the first step toward enabling the curation of sets of DPLA artifacts by partners, teachers, and the general public. We know that bundling DPLA items along with narrative description is a boon to SEO, and so we hope that this will allow for greater discoverability of our collective work, as well as give our partners new outlets to showcase local collections.

Lastly, we will expand the work we began last year to make eligible items from our aggregation of America’s cultural artifacts available to the public via Wikimedia. So far we’ve worked with seven partners, representing more than 200 institutions, to add 1.4 million image files of photos, documents, and maps to the Wikimedia Commons digital asset management platform. This makes them available to be included in Wikipedia articles and viewable by vast new audiences. A recent example is the 8,000 images we uploaded from Boston Public Library and Digital Commonwealth. You can read more about our collaboration here. You can also track our upload progress here, and see the pageviews our uploads have shown up in here—we’re likely to hit 10 million this month!

We’ll be updating you regularly on this work in the coming months, and if you’re a member of our Hubs network, you can hear more about our plans Tuesday at 1:30 pm ET at the DPLA Network Council meeting. (And if you’re not a member, but would like to be, you can find more information about the program here.) Please feel free to reach out to me with questions at that meeting or email me