Inaugural Meeting Advances Member Network

Posted by Samantha Gibson in March 23, 2018.

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Last week, DPLA hosted our inaugural Hub Network Members Meeting, a gathering of representatives from our Member Hubs to map out ways that we—DPLA and our network of partners—can exchange ideas and work together to tackle common challenges, achieve shared goals, and shape the future of DPLA. From the beginning, DPLA has been powered by its network of partners and, as Executive Director John Bracken said in his opening remarks, “If the network doesn’t succeed, we don’t succeed.” Indeed, our core objective for the meeting was not just to bring our partners together from across the country, but to listen to what our members had to say to us and to each other about their goals, their challenges, and how we can ensure the success of our partners across the network. We are pleased to share the happenings, ideas, and outcomes from the Members Meeting with our broad community.

Network Council Members at DPLA Members Meeting 2018

Network Council members lead a “deep dive” discussion about sustainable models for DPLA Hubs.

Having the opportunity to meet with our friends and colleagues across the network in person is always a treat. Attendees at the Members Meeting included representatives from longtime DPLA partners like Minnesota Digital Library; national organizations like the National Archives; Content Hubs such as The New York Public Library; and new and evolving Service Hubs like Ohio Digital Network and Digital Virginias (Virginia and West Virginia). As part of our new Membership Program, Member Hubs now have a more active role in DPLA than ever before and the meeting reflected that shift. The meeting program was determined by input from members; Network Council Chair Leigh Jeremias of the Plains to Peaks Collective and Vice Chair Adrian Turner of California Digital Library led the conversation about the priorities and governance for the network; Hub representatives facilitated many of the meeting’s sessions and workshops; and planning committee members Nicole Lawrence (Digital Library of Georgia), Jennifer Birnel (Big Sky Country Digital Network), Leigh Jeremias (Plains to Peaks Collective), Kinza Masood (Mountain West Digital Library), and Christina Zamon (Georgia State University) helped bring our plans and ideas to reality.

Participants collaborate at DPLA Members Meeting 2018

Participants collaborate during the first day of the Members Meeting.

One of the most valuable outcomes of the meeting was the opportunity for colleagues from different hubs to engage with each other in a way that is hard to replicate at larger scale events like DPLAfest. Member-led facilitated discussions on topics including outreach to new partners, building audiences, and sustainability allowed hub staffers to commiserate about shared challenges, but also to exchange proven strategies and creative ideas for addressing common needs. For example, in the discussion on engaging with partner institutions, when a participant from Digital Library of Georgia shared their challenges around sustaining engagement with their local partners, staffers from Minnesota Digital Library offered their model of hosting an annual meeting at different locations across the state and Mountain West Digital Library shared how they encourage partners to take an active role in their work through regular conference calls with their network. Interactive workshops demonstrated practical tools and approaches that participants could immediately implement at their organizations. Workshop topics included rights statements implementation, metadata analysis, and assessing the impact of cultural heritage institutions using Europeana’s new toolkit. We ended the first day with a reception at Atlanta’s renowned Center for Civil and Human Rights, an institution that powerfully demonstrates how cultural heritage materials can be employed to tell rich, nuanced stories of our nation’s past.

The best part of the Member Meeting is that it only represents the beginning of the work of the Member Network. Working groups consisting of both member representatives and DPLA staff will form later this spring and meet over the course of the next year to address issues including outreach, assessment, metadata, technology, and rights statements. Information about each working group’s charges and priorities will be made available on our website in the coming weeks. We are also already looking ahead to the next annual Members Meeting in 2019 and hope to see even more of our hubs represented. Current and prospective hubs, find out how you can become a DPLA Member. If you would like to dig deeper into the work that took place at the meeting, we are happy to share access to slides and notes from each session. Email DPLA Network Manager Kelcy Shepherd at kelcy@dp.la to request access or with any follow up questions about the event.

We would like to offer special thanks to Georgia State University and Digital Library of Georgia for hosting this event and to all our members for making it a success! Stay tuned for more updates about the ongoing work of the member network.