University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library Partners with the Digital Public Library of America

By Kenny Whitebloom, April 15, 2013.

April 15, 2013

Urbana, Illinois / Cambridge, MA — The Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is joining with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to provide online access to thousands of historical materials archived at Illinois. As part of the cooperative partnership, the University Library will contribute metadata for 15 of its digital image collections.

Premier collections include the Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design (costume and set designs by the Motley Group, whose designs were used in productions on Broadway and the Metropolitan Opera in New York City); Portraits of Actors, 1720-1920 (includes almost 3,500 pictures of actors-studio portraits, the majority are British and American actors who worked between about 1770 and 1893); Historical Maps Online (maps charting the last 400 years of historical development in Illinois and the Northwest Territory); and Sousa Archives Music Instrument Digital Image Library (images of rare cornets and trumpets, early boxwood clarinets and flutes, unique double-reed sarrusophones, bassoons and Heckelphone, unusual harps and zithers, prototype electronic Hawaiian guitars and Sal Mar Construction, and Civil War era military horns in the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music).

“The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has been at the forefront of the movement to digitize our nation’s cultural and scientific heritage,” said John Palfrey, president of the Board of Directors of the DPLA. “We are honored and pleased to count Illinois as among the very first major participants in the development of the Digital Public Library of America. Their partnership and the unique materials that they are bringing to our national digital library initiative will have an immediate and lasting impact.”

“Contributing to the DPLA is a natural extension of our mission as the library of a major land grant university,” said Sue Searing, associate dean of libraries & associate university librarian for user services at Illinois.  “By contributing our records, we take another step forward in sharing Illinois’s digital treasures with the world.  And of course, our own students and researchers will benefit from the rich collection that the DPLA is shaping from multiple sources.  We’re proud and excited to be part of this groundbreaking initiative in knowledge-sharing.”

The DPLA is a large-scale, collaborative project across government, research institutions, museums, libraries, and archives to build a digital library platform to make America’s cultural and scientific history free and publicly available anytime, anywhere, online through a single access point. As part of its two-year Digital Hubs Pilot Project, the DPLA is working with several large digital content providers- including the National Archives, the Smithsonian Institution, and now the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign-and six state and regional digital libraries to make digitized content from their online catalogs easily accessible to all.

About the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. The DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used. More information is online at To find out more about the DPLA launch, April 18-19 in Boston, visit

About the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library holds more than thirteen million volumes, more than 120,000 serial titles, and more than nine million manuscripts, maps, slides, audio tapes, microforms, videotapes, laser discs, and other non-print material.  The University Library is ranked highly nationally and globally, and its collections and services are used heavily by students, faculty, and scholars. More than one million items are circulated annually, and many more are used on site and virtually from anywhere in the world. For more information, please visit

Image courtesy Jeffrey Keefer on Flickr; used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license

cc-by-iconAll written content on this blog is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. All images found on this blog are available under the specific license(s) attributed to them, unless otherwise noted.