Meet a Community Rep: Danielle Cunniff Plumer

By DPLA, May 8, 2014.
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My name is Danielle Cunniff Plumer and I’m an independent consultant working with libraries, archives, and other institutions interested in putting their collections online. I applied to be a DPLA Community Rep because I believe in the DPLA’s mission of making the riches of cultural institutions freely available to the world and I wanted to help in whatever way I could.

Image of people working with the DPLA API Tutorial at the Hacking DPLA at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries event, 2014.

Working through the DPLA API Tutorial, Hacking DPLA at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries, 2014.

Most of my work with DPLA so far has been on the technical end of the spectrum. In April 2014, I coordinated two events. First, I led a hands-on Omeka workshop at the Texas Library Association conference, in which participants used items found through DPLA to build virtual collections and develop exhibits around the items. Second, I coordinated a half-day hackathon event as part of the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries in Austin, which introduced participants to the DPLA API.

The hands-on Omeka workshop was a lot of fun to prepare. I only had an hour to work with, so I set up an instance of in advance and pre-loaded about 50 items related to the Alamo in San Antonio, Texas, where the conference was held.  I looked for items from a variety of DPLA service and content hubs, but I only used items that were available without any restrictions so that I could load the digital objects plus metadata into Omeka. The curriculum for the session was adapted from Amanda French’s Introduction to Omeka lesson plan. I had about 12 students in the workshop, each with a laptop and Internet access provided by TLA. It took me a total of about 6 hours to prepare for the workshop and I think participants got a lot out of it.

The hackathon was much more exhausting, but also more fun. I’d never coordinated a hackathon before. In fact, I’d never really attended a hackathon before, at least not one that produced actual code. I’ve written up a full set of reflections on the hackathon on my blog, to provide some information for anyone else brave enough to organize one.

Participants discussing hackathon projects, Hacking DPLA at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries, 2014.

Discussing hackathon projects, Hacking DPLA at the Texas Conference on Digital Libraries, 2014.

My main personal contribution to the hackathon was the development of a tutorial showing how the DPLA API can be used. My example was a simple search form with results; I took ideas for the code from two existing DPLA Apps, the DPLA Search Widget developed by Dean Farrell and Josh Wilson, and the EBSCO Discovery Service and DPLA Highlights app developed by Eric Frierson, who was generous enough to send me his app source code. I modeled my tutorial on the Railsbridge for Women Intro to Rails tutorial, though I decided to use PHP as the basis for development since I’m more comfortable in that language. The tutorial is available as a handout on my site, and the complete code is available on GitHub.

Being involved with DPLA at this level has been personally rewarding. I find the technologies used in the DPLA platform to be very approachable for people of all levels of technical ability and I plan to do more playing with the API to improve my own skills. Next fall, I’m scheduled to teach a course on “Digital Public History” at Texas State University, and I’m already having conversations with DPLA Assistant Director for Content Amy Rudersdorf about ways that my class can work with DPLA’s Digital Curation Project, as new guidelines are developed. I look forward to collaborating with DPLA staff and other Community Reps in the months ahead!

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