The Digital Public Library of America Announces New Partnerships, Initiatives, and Milestones at DPLAfest 2015

By DPLA, April 18, 2015.
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Indianapolis, IN — On the second anniversary of the Digital Public Library of America’s launch, DPLA announced a number of new partnerships, initiatives, and milestones that highlight its rapid growth, and prepare it to have an even larger impact in the years ahead. At DPLAfest 2015 in Indianapolis, hundreds of people from DPLA’s expanding community gathered to discuss DPLA’s present and future. Announcements included:

Content milestones

Over 10 Million Items from 1,600 Contributing Institutions

On the second anniversary of its launch, the Digital Public Library of America surpassed a remarkable 10,000,000 items in its aggregated collection of openly available books, photographs, maps, artworks, manuscripts, audio, video, and material culture. This represents a quadrupling of the original collection at launch, which stood at 2.4 million items.

DPLA now has 1,600 contributing institutions from across the country, including libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites. Included within this wide-ranging collaboration are small rural public libraries and historical societies, large universities and community colleges, federal, state, and local government agencies, corporations, independent collections, and many more organizations of all stripes. In April 2013 there were just 500 contributing institutions.

This tremendous growth can be attributed, in part, to existing partners whose collections are newly available this week, including the Empire State Digital Network and the California Digital Library. Minnesota Digital Library, a partner since DPLA’s inception, is making available nearly half a million new records, an incredible 900% increase in just the past few months.

New Hub Partnerships

With Indiana’s bicentennial coming up in 2016, DPLA is delighted to announce that close to 50,000 items from Indiana Memory were added to DPLA’s collection in the last week, including postcards, photographs, and other unique and compelling documents from Indiana’s rich history.

Joining Indiana as newly covered states in early 2015 are Tennessee, Maine, and Maryland, which are forming Service Hubs for collections in their states. DPLA expects to have new content from those states, as well as ongoing contributions from our many other states, in the coming months. In addition, DPLA added the Digital Library of the Caribbean as a hub partner, which will be contributing a vast array of materials from that region.

DPLA now has 15 Service Hubs, covering 19 states. Recent grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services are targeted toward coverage of additional states in a succession of application phases that has already begun.


PBS-DPLA Partnership

The Digital Public Library of America and PBS LearningMedia are excited to announce today a major collaboration, bringing together the complementary strengths, networks, and content of our two nationwide organizations to better serve teachers, students, and the general public. By interweaving PBS’s unparalleled media resources and connections to the world of education and lifelong learning with DPLA’s vast and growing storehouse of openly available materials and community of librarians, archivists, and curators, the partners hope to make rich new resources accessible and discoverable for all.

In support of our respective organizations’ mutual interests in education, DPLA and PBS plan to work together to bring the high-quality DPLA digital content to as many teachers and students as possible. In the future, PBS and DPLA will explore additional, related ideas, such as professional development resources for teachers, the possible inclusion of PBS media within DPLA, and fostering local relationships between PBS’s affiliates and DPLA’s state-based service hubs.

Learning Registry Collaboration

Beginning today, the Digital Public Library of America’s exhibitions will be discoverable through the Learning Registry, which distributes top educational resources to states and schools around the country. The U.S. Departments of Education and Defense launched the Learning Registry in 2011 as an open source community and technology designed to improve the quality and availability of learning resources in education. By connecting DPLA’s metadata with the Learning Registry’s digital platform, schools, teachers, and students will more easily find the rich and open resources within DPLA’s collections. Since they cover major themes in American history and culture, DPLA’s exhibitions are already widely used in education, and this partnership will ensure an even broader audience for them, and set the stage for other DPLA resources to be more widely discoverable in the future.

Ebooks-related announcements and remarks

Sloan Foundation-funded Work on Ebooks

DPLAfest marks a key moment in the Digital Public Library of America’s work on improving access to ebooks. Generously funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, dozens of librarians, authors, publishers, and readers are gathered in Indianapolis to discuss the current landscape of this complex challenge. Our goals were to identify community leaders, scaleable infrastructure, and avenues of participation that have the potential to transform libraries’ and librarians’ contributions and roles. The expectation is that we will come away with the framework for a possible demonstration effort, as well as a means to closer unite strong contributors in the space towards a common goal.

Collaboration with HathiTrust for Open Ebooks

In a related development, the Digital Public Library of America and HathiTrust plan to highlight how they will work together to help exciting new initiatives that open up access to books. The Humanities Open Book grant program, a joint initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, for instance, will award grants to publishers to identify select previously published books and acquire the appropriate rights to produce an open access ebook edition available under a Creative Commons license. Participants in the program must deposit an EPUB version of the book in a trusted preservation service to ensure future access. DPLA and HathiTrust are well-prepared to accept these books and provide a wider distribution point for them.


New Board Chair and New Board Member Announced

In advance of DPLAfest 2015, the Board of Directors of the Digital Public Library of America announced the appointment of Amy Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library, as its next chair, effective for two years. Ryan will succeed the current chair, John Palfrey, Head of School at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Palfrey has been a central figure in DPLA’s history, from his co-leadership of the Secretariat during DPLA’s planning phase, and subsequently as founding chair of the DPLA Board.

Ryan has over 35 years of public library experience. Before being named to lead the Boston Public Library, she was the director of the nationally recognized Hennepin County Library in Minnesota, and prior to that Ryan served in leadership positions for over 28 years with Minneapolis Public Library.

In addition, at DPLAfest the Board announced the appointment of Jennifer 8. Lee as a new member, effective July 2015. A former New York Times reporter, Jennifer 8. Lee is an author, journalist and digital media entrepreneur. She is the co-founder and CEO of Plympton, a publisher of serialized fiction on digital platforms. Lee is the author of the New York Times-bestselling book, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, and serves on the boards of the Nieman Foundation, the Center for Public Integrity, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Hacks/Hackers, Awesome Foundation and the Robert F. Kennedy journalism awards. She is a member of the New York Public Library Young Lions Committee. Jenny graduated with a degree in Applied Math and Economics from Harvard, where she was vice president of The Harvard Crimson.

Lee will be replacing Cathy Casserly on the board. Like Palfrey, Casserly has been enormously helpful to DPLA in its inception and growth as an organization. Her unparalleled experience with Creative Commons and Open Educational Resources, and her keen sense of nonprofit management, has been a boon to the young organization.



The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Stanford University, and the DuraSpace organization announced this week that their collaboration has been awarded a $2 million National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Nicknamed Hydra-in-a-Box, the project aims foster a new, national, library network through a community-based repository system, enabling discovery, interoperability and reuse of digital resources by people from this country and around the world.

The partners will engage with libraries, archives, and museums nationwide, especially current and prospective DPLA hubs and the Hydra community, to systematically capture the needs for a next-generation, open source, digital repository. They will collaboratively extend the existing Hydra project codebase to build, bundle, and promote a feature-complete, robust digital repository that is easy to install, configure, and maintain—in short, a next-generation digital repository that will work for institutions large and small, and is capable of running as a hosted service. Finally, starting with DPLA’s own metadata aggregation services, the partners will work to ensure that these repositories have the necessary affordances to support networked aggregation, discovery, management and access to these resources, producing a shared, sustainable, nationwide platform.

For more information, please see the full press release.

DPLA Becomes an Official Hydra Project Partner

In concert with the Hydra-in-a-box project, the Digital Public Library of America became an official Hydra Project partner. Hydra is a repository solution that is being used by institutions worldwide to provide access to their digital content. A large, multi-institutional collaboration,  the project gives like-minded institutions a mechanism to combine their individual repository development efforts into a collective solution with breadth and depth that exceeds the capacity of any individual institution to create, maintain or enhance on its own. The motto of the project partners is “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Hydra is open source, and enables advanced, modern, flexible user and administrative interfaces. Mark A. Matienzo, DPLA’s Director of Technology, notes that “by becoming a Hydra partner, DPLA is expressing its commitment to contributing and furthering a vibrant open source community.” The Hydra project has over 25 partners, including academic libraries, public libraries, and non-profit organizations.


The Digital Public Library of America wishes to thank its generous DPLAfest Sponsors:

  • The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Anonymous Donor
  • Bibliolabs
  • OCLC
  • Digital Library Federation
  • Digital Library Systems Group at Image Access

DPLA also wishes to thank its gracious hosts for DPLAfest 2015:

  • Indianapolis Public Library
  • Indiana State Library
  • Indiana Historical Society
  • IUPUI University Library