Digital Public Library of America

Last weeks Digital Public Library of America, or DPLA, seminar helped to clarify some issues regarding this national project and what the future implications are for our library. The initial vision of the DPLA was to create a national digital library that will keep items free and accessible for everyone. This is especially important with the recent issues of E-Books and digitization of newspapers. The first step in this process to create a national digital library was to create “digital hubs

Right now there are 7 digital hubs that are linked to the DPLA initiative. These hubs consist of University or State Libraries who agree to host and help digitize materials around their specific geographic region. (See Minnesota’s Refelctions for a wonderful example of a digital hub) Sadly, none of these hubs are located in Michigan. What these hubs are doing was best explained from the representative of the Knight Foundation, which is granting the DPLA a million dollars to help push this project along.

He stated that “These hubs will create the agreements between participating organizations and coordinate efforts within their states. They will provide direct services too. For example, if a library wants to start digitizing items but lacks the equipment or staff, the hubs will digitize up to 5,000 items for them. They will send a metadata “geek squad” to teach the staff how to code and categorize the digitized materials. No place to store all the new digital data? The hubs will store it for you and provide you with a link to put on your website.”

I left the seminar on both days scratching my head trying to understand how GRPL can add to this initiative? Especially, since we have no direct contact with the DPLA in the form of a digital hub. Questions swirled in my head as to how a hub could be created here in Michigan and thereby link our collection to the DPLA? Do we wait for the hub, or do we become a hub ourselves? What would this require and where would the resources come from? One thing is clear, we need to be part of this initiative. We need to add Grand Rapid’s voice to the DPLA.

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