Perspectives from DPLAfest: Ebooks, Education and Building our Hubs

By DPLA, April 29, 2016.

With DPLAfest 2016 larger than ever, we reached out to a few attendees ahead of the event to help us capture the (many) diverse experiences of fest participants.  These ‘special correspondents’ have graciously volunteered to share their personal perspectives on the fest.  In this first guest post by our special correspondents, Sara Stephenson, Kerry Dunne, and Emily Pfotenhauer reflect on their fest experiences from the perspectives of their fields and interests: ebooks, education, and the growing DPLA hub network.

Ebooks and Access at DPLAfest

By Sara Stephenson, Virtual Services Coordinator, St Mary’s County Library


The Library of Congress Jefferson Building, host location for DPLAfest Day 1

DPLAfest 2016 was an informative and exciting conference in a fantastic environment. The Library of Congress and the National Archives are great locations for a conference focusing on archival collections, ebooks, and access. And lunch in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building was certainly a highlight! I did not make it to any of the sessions in the Smithsonian, but I expect it was an equally ideal location.

I am a librarian in a small public library in Maryland, but I also came to DPLAfest as a representative of ReadersFirst, an organization made up of nearly 300 libraries that is working to ensure access to free and easy-to-use library ebooks. The conversations surrounding ebooks at DPLAfest were engaging and provided new information and ideas. For example, during a panel session on ebook research and advocacy in which ReadersFirst was participating, I learned about the Charlotte Initiative, a group working to research various aspects of ebooks in academic libraries in an effort to start discussions about best practices for publishers, librarians, and educators. Meeting and talking with others who work with ebooks in libraries was enlightening– so many of us are working toward the same goals and we could accomplish even more if we work together. DPLAfest facilitated this kind of communication that I believe will continue beyond the conference through the Ebook Working Group.

Though I spent most of DPLAfest thinking and talking about ebooks, I also attended a few sessions relating to archival collections and DPLA service and content hubs. It was fascinating to hear about the difficulties of connecting collections in the widespread western part of the country, and to see some of the many digital collections and exhibits using Omeka as a platform. Ultimately, I left DPLAfest 2016 with a better understanding of the ebook landscape in libraries and within DPLA, as well as a great deal of information relating to digital collections in general. I’m excited to continue the ebook conversation within my own library, within my state, and nationally.


Loving DC, and Thinking About Educational Applications for Digital Resources at DPLAFest

By Kerry Dunne, Director of History and Social Studies for Boston Public Schools.

I was fortunate enough to have been a member of the DPLA Education Advisory Committee over the past year, authoring primary source sets on 20th Century Mining in the Mojave DesertCreating the US ConstitutionExploration of the Americas, the American Abolitionist MovementBusing and School Desegregation in Boston, and Visual Art of the Harlem Renaissance.  The experience was fantastic, providing me with an opportunity to collaborate with top-notch educators from around the nation, and to interact directly with the DPLA site and its vast resources of primary sources.

Franky Abbott from the DPLA invited several members of the Education Advisory Committee to serve on a panel at DPLAfest discussing the Primary Source Sets project.  It was great to be able to share our work with an enthusiastic audience!  And, as I attended other sessions at DPLAFest, it brought home the point that our university, library, and public/private institutional archives, now largely digitized, are too rarely utilized by K-12 teachers.

At DPLAFest, I attend several showcase sessions, and was particularly intrigued a short presentation by a team curating TV footage via the American Archive of Public Broadcasting . Finding short news clips of historical events is a labor intensive-endeavor for history teachers, but adds tremendous value to student learning experiences;

One cannot go to DC in April without sneaking out to the tidal basin to see cherry blossoms in bloom.

One cannot go to DC in April without sneaking out to the tidal basin to see cherry blossoms in bloom.

I see incredible potential for developing educational applications for digital archives such as this one.  For many institutions, cataloguing and digitizing media and print collections is step one, but I would love to see the development of educational resources and training to help teachers and students access and use the collections for educational purposes become step two.

The DPLA has itself provided a model of this process with the creation of its Education Advisory Committee, which it commissioned to assist with the production of user-friendly primary source sets for educators, saving teachers the work of sifting through thousands of items by identifying 10-15 “gems” on a range of topics and providing questions for student analysis of these items.

I would be happy to work with organizations attending DPLAFest to consider how their collections can best be make accessible, and useful to educators, an endeavor that often involves more marketing than work product.  Please reach out to discuss further!


Building DPLA Hubs Across the Country: No Two are the Same

By Emily Pfotenhauer, Recollection Wisconsin Program Manager, WiLS

DPLAFest 2016 was my first Fest experience, and the first time Wisconsin was represented at the Fest as an official Service Hub. The Recollection Wisconsin Service Hub came on board with DPLA this past summer, and we just recently handed off our metadata feed for our first ingest (going live very soon!).

As part of a newbie Hub, I spent much of my time at DPLAfest attending presentations from fellow Hubs. It was fascinating to see such a broad range of approaches the Service Hubs are undertaking to get to the same core functions of bringing together metadata and passing it to DPLA. No two Hubs make it work in exactly the same way, but each one is built on an essential foundation of collaboration across multiple institutions in their state or region.

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Kerri Willette introduces the Empire State Digital Network Service Hub

In “A Look at New York’s DPLA Service Hub from the Ground Up,” Empire State Digital Network Manager Kerri Willette and three regional liaisons – Susan D’Entremont, Laura Osterhout and Jennifer Palmentiero shared how ESDN has leveraged existing regional collaboratives to create a robust, distributed network. The “Wide Open Spaces: Bringing the Rest of the West into DPLA” session highlighted the challenges of collaboration in western states, where populations and resources tend to be spread more thinly. Sandra McIntyre of Mountain West Digital Library and Adrian Turner of the California Digital Library described their work to sustain and expand existing initiatives, while Jodi Allison-Bunnell of Orbis Cascade Alliance outlined efforts to form a new Service Hub from scratch in the Pacific Northwest.

A pre-fest workshop for Service Hubs provided an in-depth look at the newly launched, DPLA’s groundbreaking work with Europeana to develop simplified, standardized labels for the copyright status of materials in digital collections. Presenters Melissa Levine of the University of Michigan, Greg Cram of New York Public Library and Dave Hansen of UNC School of Law shared their extensive expertise in copyright law and its impact on open access to cultural heritage (ultimately, it’s less of a barrier than we often assume). This workshop marked the beginnings of a conversation among the Service Hubs about how we can help our contributing partners adopt these rights statements in their digital collections.

For me, one of the most rewarding experiences of DPLAFest was the chance to meet in person some of the amazing people I’ve previously connected with over email, phone calls or Twitter. I now have many faces I can put with names from across the country. These face-to-face connections are especially important for me in a telecommuting position, when many workdays are just me and my laptop. To that end, I’ll close by quoting a tweet from Dan Cohen, referencing an observation by author Virginia Heffernan: