Report from the Public Library Partnerships Project Workshops

By DPLA, July 31, 2014.

In April 2014, after research and planning, the Public Library Partnerships Project team started to convene one-day workshops for public librarians interested in digitization. Each hub—Digital Commonwealth, Digital Library of Georgia, Minnesota Digital Library, and Mountain West Digital Library—gave a workshop in the spring. We then met as group to discuss the curriculum and make necessary changes for the later workshops. We also relied on feedback from participants in the first workshops and the survey and informal feedback they had offered about their experiences. Since that meeting, we’ve continue to give workshops: so far eight more with an additional five scheduled through the end of September.

Our hubs have done a terrific job of getting the word out in their states and recruiting fabulous participants. Workshops have catalyzed lots of great discussion about local content and ideas for collaboration with other local history groups (historical societies, museums, and more). We have had a terrific time getting to know the PLPP participants and look forward to working with them as the project progresses.

This map shows the 80 or so institutions that have participated in PLPP’s first eight workshops. We will update it as we continue.

Remaining PLPP workshops:

  • 8/6/2014, Digital Library of Georgia at Live Oak Public Libraries, Savannah, Georgia
  • 8/28/2014, Mountain West Digital Library at Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • 9/9/2014, Mountain West Digital Library at Weber State University Library, Ogden, Utah
  • 9/16/2014, Minnesota Digital Library at Detroit Lakes Public Library, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota
  • 9/30/2014, Digital Library of Georgia at East Central Georgia Regional Library System HQ, Augusta, Georgia

Digital Commonwealth, working with the Boston Public Library Digital Services team, has finished all of its workshops for the project. We’re so pleased with their mighty efforts, and the mighty efforts of the three hubs still in workshop mode, to include institutions from across their state.

Curriculum and Feedback
The curriculum we’ve designed strikes a balance between two important goals:

1) To give participants a fundamental understanding of the digitization process, including content selection, copyright considerations, scanning and imaging, and metadata creation, while highlighting best practices

2) To connect participants to resources for further information and assistance, particularly via digitization service providers in their own states

Staff members from the four hubs were indispensable to the PLPP curriculum design process because of their experience with digitization training and their deep knowledge of the specific institutions in their states. With their input, the workshops in each state varied in their specific discussion of resources while sharing a common flow of curriculum modules. PLPP workshops are all done in one eight-hour day, which challenges us to convey a large amount of information in a concise and engaged way, but respects the staffing/leave and travel constraints for many public librarians.

In June, we collectively met to collectively propose some changes to the shared curriculum. For a number of modules, particularly copyright, scanning, and metadata, we wanted to adjust the balance of rich information with an emphasis on workflows and next steps. Participants had suggested in surveys that these modules were some of the most useful so we wanted them to be informative but practical. We also worked hard to find places to include even more interactive components: practice activities and discussions. This is particularly important for a workshop in a single long day. In the first workshops, we discovered that content selection provides a natural place for discussion of what public libraries are thinking about digitizing. We found it very effective for both participants in planning and workshops leaders in addressing specific questions and concerns. After our revision discussion, we also further built out existing activities in the copyright and metadata sections.

Finally, we found that all the trainings included an important thread of discussion about the implications of sharing digitized content with multiple audiences. Where public libraries are naturally interested in local audiences, we wanted to get them thinking about how locally significant digitized content can also have resonance on a national level (and beyond). This idea became an important piece of the content selection and metadata modules where participants thought about what to select and how to make it multiply discoverable. Because we will eventually work with participants to build exhibitions for DPLA and their content will appear in state, regional, and national digital library contexts, it is important that this idea be part of our day-long conversation.

Next Stages
Once we have finished our PLPP workshops and completed the project, we plan to share the revised curriculum with the hope that other institutions will find it valuable. As workshops end, the hubs are following up with participants about digitization plans and getting them scheduled for scanning. As we move into the digitization stage of PLPP, we will also begin discussing the exhibitions and making plans for follow-up training. We look forward to sharing what we’ve learned in future blog posts as the project continues.

Header image: Participants in the first Mountain West Digital Library PLPP workshop at the Utah State Library in Salt Lake City. Courtesy MWDL staff.

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