To the Community & Beyond: Connecting the National Public

DPLA_logoFrom a Pacific Northwest public library to a New England collegiate archive center, useful knowledge and information is collected, preserved and used to promote scholarly communications and facilitate learning. The interconnectedness of the world today allows these seemingly different information institutions to share information resources through the Digital Public Library of America (DP.LA).

Fall Symposium guest speaker Kathryn Shaughnessy, Associate Professor of St. John’s University Libraries, introduced attendees to the notion of “public in the broadest sense” with an informative session on how every librarian can use and contribute to the DP.LA project.

The goal of the Digital Public Library of America is to lower the barriers of access to information for Americans and eventually the world, acting as “a portal for discovery, a platform to build upon and a public option for access”. Shaughnessy informed Symposium attendees that contributing institutions, no matter how big or small, would be making a local impact, working within a national network with a global reach to serve a national community need for equitable access to information.

Shaughnessy detailed the numerous ways librarians at a local level can easily become part of and contribute to this global resource for her audience. For the “techy-crowd” DP.LA offers different opportunities to contribute to the project’s development. It has an open API to repurpose and reuse information in many different ways. The DP.LA also has a metadata repository for bulk metadata records with indicators pointing back to the contributing institution. Interested institutions could also host hackathons or a community harvest for resources, exposing local history and unique resources meaningful to your community brought to national attention. Further, she went into great detail on content partnering. Here in New York, local institutions could work through a content hub, our local hub being the Empire State Digital Network, which also provides grants to fund projects geared toward DP.LA.

DP.LA gives its current and potential contributors a voice to be heard at its open board committee meetings. Here is an opportunity to speak directly to those in charge of this project, where a true public voice can and will be heard. Other ways to get involved include subscribing to the newslist, following DP.LA on social medias (#DPLAfinds), or of course make a tax-deductable donation.

As a community representative (yet another great way to get involved), Shaughnessy implored the importance of the Digital Public Library of America: representing the underrepresented, linking the information resources of America through collaboration and a network of dedicated librarians to expand the DP.LA service throughout the country; creating a national community network utilizing valuable cultural and historical resources.

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