NJ Explores Participation in Digital Public Library of America at Symposium

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) was launched on April 18, 2013, to bring together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums making 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 scie

Kelcy Shepherd, DPLA network manager

The DPLA hubs model is establishing a national network out of over forty digital libraries and major digital collections in the U.S., bringing together digitized and born-digital content from across the country into a single access point for end users, and an open platform for developers.

With the assistance of consultants Tom Clareson of LYRASIS and Liz Bishoff of The Bishoff Group, New Jersey has begun exploring the possibility of establishing a Service Hub to aggregate digital content into DPLA. The first exploratory steps have included a statewide digitization survey and a symposium. Open for four weeks in March and April, the survey of New Jersey’s cultural heritage institutions is helping to determine organizational readiness to participate in DPLA. The New Jersey Digital Public Library of America Symposium, held on June 14 at the Monmouth County Library Headquarters, Manalapan, brought together representatives of over 45 cultural heritage institutions to learn about DPLA and the several Service Hub models employed by different states, to learn the benefits of participation in DPLA, to hear the results of the digitization survey and to discuss New Jersey’s organizational readiness and interest in participating in DPLA. The symposium was sponsored by the NJ State Library and LibraryLinkNJ.

According to Kelcy Shepherd, DPLA network manager, DPLA is a catalyst for getting things done that people have wanted to do for a long time. The platform provides one stop shopping for people to review data. It connects users with incredible collections from diverse places, such as museums, historical societies, libraries and all types of material such as books, photos, video and audio files. There are currently 19 Service Hubs serving 21 states, with three more expected to go live this summer.

Tom Clareson, Liz Bishoff, Kelcy Shepherd

Some of the benefits of the platform include adding value to curated content; providing interfaces and tools many organizations may not be able to afford or have the capacity to do on their own; a curation team that can create exhibits; and it provides the opportunity to be a part of a larger community to solve problems they would not be able to solve alone. The Service Hub model increases capacity for the greater good.

Joe Lucia, from Temple University, was interested in the DPLA concept from the very beginning and was a key figure in developing the Pennsylvania Service Hub. “Libraries stand as a counter to the commercialization of information,” he said. “DPLA’s mission to keeping knowledge and culture open to everyone calls libraries together regardless of socioeconomic, political means or status. Cultural memory institutions of all sizes can be part of this. DPLA provides the opportunity for larger institutions to work with smaller ones to gather, bring together and expose information for the community.”

Tom Clareson and Liz Bishoff reviewed the data collected from a survey they created which had been sent to NJ cultural institutions. Ninety percent of the 109 respondents said they had digital collections, but how many of them were ready to participate was the primary focus of Bishoff’s presentation. She noted especially that training was needed on digitization, metadata harvesting, rights management, donor agreements and other topics.

One of the challenges indicated by the survey is that 50 percent of the respondents did not have in their donor agreements the rights to digitize and distribute, which would be necessary. DPLA has a standardized rights statement that is included in the metadata field.

At the end of the symposium, attendees agreed that NJ should continue the planning efforts towards participation in DPLA.

For more information about the Digital Public Library of America, go to https://dp.la/info/.

For more photos, go to: https://www.flickr.com/photos/njlibraryevents/albums/72157684989691036