By Harold Smith

If you work at a public library, especially if you work at a small library where opportunities for collaboration are rare and money for new projects is even rarer, then you should read about this opportunity that is now available. Here’s the deal in a nutshell. If you have an unprocessed collection, even if you aren’t sure of their importance, you can arrange for someone to come to your library to assess the collection and to walk you through the entire process of project design, digitization, metadata creation, rights management, and putting the collection online. If you have never done anything like this before, they will help you learn. If you have done similar work but are simply strapped for time or money, they can take a lot of the work off your hands and they can do it with grant money instead of your money. All they ask in return is that you share what you digitize. That doesn’t mean you lose your collection or even that you lose the right to host the digital collection if you want, it just means that the metadata and a thumbnail image will be used to link your content with the content from other collections. This expands the reach of your collection and helps get your library more attention, but this aggregation of data also helps develop new opportunities for research. It’s a great opportunity to honor that donor who gave items not so that they could gather dust in your basement, but so that they could be used and shared in meaningful ways. It also is an opportunity to improve your digitization skills without taking on an entire project by yourself. I attended a workshop about this at the Jones Public Library in Amherst on June 18th, and I left feeling really excited about the whole idea. Like I said, it’s a sweet deal.

Bringing in wood, Chesterfield, Mass. from the Jones
Bringing in wood, Chesterfield, Mass. One of the treasures from the Clifton Johnson Collection, 1880-1940 at the Jones Library Special Collections.

How is this possible? The Public Library Partnership Project is funded through the Digital Public Library of America by the Gates Foundation. Four states are involved and in each state there is a digital library partner to provide training. In Massachusetts, this assistance is provided by the Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library. If you decide to get involved these are the folks who will come and work with you. It’s not like working with a vendor who will come and scan your collection only to leave you with a bunch of questions and a confusing list of file names. The goal here is different. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for you, and to create a sense of perpetual engagement so that there is a process in place for continued sharing. One example of that ongoing relationship is the goal of working with public libraries to create exhibitions from the newly ingested content. The exhibitions would be built in part with your content, as well as with your knowledge of the community that is sharing the content, and they would be hosted by the Digital Public Library of America, whose site has had more than one million unique visitors. To make participation in these exhibitions easier, additional training will also be available about how to put a collection together, about writing for the web, and for learning to use Omeka when putting exhibitions together. The DPLA exhibits would share your content on equal footing with content from other, often larger organizations, and it would make it part of a national narrative. After participating in that process, you could then take those same skills to build a local exhibit designed specifically for your own community. It would be a great way to keep the new skills sharp and to give back to the local community that shared the content and has a deeper connection to it.

To learn more about this opportunity, please consider filling out the very simple form that will get the ball rolling.  You can find it on the Digital Commonwealth site.  If your public library is not a member of the Digital Commonwealth, joining is a great option, but don’t abandon the idea of participating in the digitization project if you are not members. Like public radio, support is important and encouraged, but no one is turned away. To do so would undercut the whole idea behind such projects. Worst case scenario, you end up chatting with someone at the Boston Public Library about the interesting stuff at your library and the possibility of finally getting it processed and out where it can be accessed. And, if while filling out the form you realize you aren’t even sure how to answer the questions, remember that putting “I don’t know” is a perfectly fine and honest response. Someone will get back to you and will help you along; that’s what is so great about this project.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, you should attend the next and final workshop in the series at SAILS Inc., Lakeville, MA on July 16 from 9:30 AM – 4:30 PM.

A group of 14 public librarians gathered at the Boston Public Library on April 16, 2014 for the Public Librarian Partnership Program (PLPP). This is the first of three workshops offered by the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) to work directly with public librarians across the state to produce an exhibit of national interest from the wealth of material in the various archives . The goal is to have a total of 45 librarians attend these one day workshops by August 2014.

World War I Poster - Victory Girls
World War I Poster – Victory Girls, Springfield College Archives and Special Collections

 

 

Presenters from the Boston Public Library for the April workshop were Anna Fahey-Flynn (Collaborative Library Services Manager), Danny Pucci (Lead Digital Projects Librarian)  and Nichole (Metadata Mob member). Representing the Digital Public Library of  America (DPLA)  were Amy Ruddersdorf (Assistant Director for Content) and Franky Abbott (Project Manager). Information was provided in a well  organized, empowering and collaborative way and throughout the workshop we were reminded of the network and assistance  available through BPL and the network that is being created.

Davis & Furber Textile Machinery
Davis & Furber Textile Machinery, Lawrence Public Library Collection

 

 

 

Initially, there was an overview of the PLPP and how the various agencies – DPLA, BPL and Digital Commonwealth — work together cooperatively. Material was presented on evaluating an institution’s collection for material that has local significance but will interest a national and international audience. Issues such as raising awareness on copyright and urging the use of Creative Commons were discussed along with creating metadata and making use of help available through the Metadata Mob at the BPL. Some interesting themes emerged as possible exhibit topics: fires, floods, or other disasters; Civil War and World War I; shoe, textile, and  optical industries – many, many possibilities! The participants were excited with the seemingly endless number of possibilities and discussed the various aspects of potential collaborations.

 

The tour of the BPL Digital Imaging Lab, the Internet Archive, and the Metadata Mob office was excellent as it was an opportunity to finally meet all these great folks that have made the digitization of so many new collections by Digital Commonwealth members possible and who have guided all these collaborative projects through the various processes. And at the end there was an opportunity to visit the Dear Boston exhibit! Kudos to the curators!

For a schedule of the workshops and registration information visit this blog post: http://blog.digitalcommonwealth.org/?p=264.

More details about the PLPP is available in this DPLA blog by Franky Abbott: http://dp.la/info/2014/02/14/partnering-with-public-libraries/

Submitted by Margaret Morrissey
Library Director
Jacob Edwards Library

Digital Commonwealth will be hosting 3 upcoming workshops to prepare public libraries to contribute content to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) as part of a Public Librarian Partnership Grant recently awarded to DPLA by the Gates Foundation.

Bread and Roses Strike
Bread and Roses Strike of 1912, Lawrence History Center

In these workshops, public librarians will learn how to work with Digital Commonwealth to select content for digitization and/or identify existing digital content, digitize new content and provide metadata and contextualization for that content, and determine potential themes for DPLA, such as this exhibit concerning the Bread & Roses Strike in Lawrence: (http://dp.la/exhibitions/exhibits/show/breadandroses)

The workshop dates have been scheduled:

Wednesday, April 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Boston Public Library (Application deadline is April 9, 2014, 5pm)
Wednesday, June 18, 9:30am – 4:30pm at Jones Public Library, Amherst, MA
Wednesday, July 16, 9:30am – 4:30pm at SAILS Inc., Lakeville, MA

The ideal candidates for these workshops will be public librarians who deal with local history, genealogy and similar unique content. If interested, registration is now available.

The following is a guest post from Molly Stothert-Maurer from the Perkins School of the Blind who attended the recent DPLA gathering at the BPL and provided this report:

DPLAfest

On October 24-25, 2013 Northeastern University, Simmons College, and the Boston Public Library hosted the first annual DPLAfest, in honor of the successful launch in April 2013 of the new Digital Public Library of America.

Ponds>Lakes>Oceans

One of the great take-home messages from the event is the clever analogy drawn between the pooling of the United States’ digital assets into the DPLA via content and service hubs, as a water ecosystem whereby small libraries, archives, historical societies, and other communities (ponds) contribute their assets to state consortia and other larger networks like the Digital Commonwealth (lake) which are subsequently harvested by the DPLA (the ocean). This model allows the DPLA to ingest assets with great efficiency by culling large, standardized data sets with metadata that can be easily mapped, allowing for a streamlined and efficient process that keeps the DPLA slim and trim (think few employees and sustainable finances) for the benefit of users worldwide- and the benefits are many. For small institutions: the power of having assets searchable equitably alongside major institutions on an attractive and user-friendly portal , with a rapidly expanding toolbox of custom apps, widgets and other “hacks” thanks to the DPLA’s open API (public docks?)- is a true rainfall for us all (pun intended). Furthermore, the DPLA is committed to sending web traffic back to individual institutions, and building support through community programs. This is evidenced by one of their credos: “Plan Nationally, Scan Locally”.

For more information about the DPLAfest check out their Recordings and Notes page.

7th Annual Digital Library Conference

May 1, 2013, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, at the Devens Commons Center,
31 Andrews Parkway, Devens, Massachusetts.

Registration Fees:

Digital Commonwealth Members: $95
Students: $95
Non-Members: $110
Advanced Registration Deadline: April 20, 2013

Register Today!

For full schedule and program descriptions, view this PDF document

9:45 – 10:45        First Keynote

The Digital Public Library of America: Interconnection and Advocacy on a National Scale

Amy Rudersdorf, Assistant Director for Content, Digital Public Library of America

When DPLA launches in April 2013, it will become a central repository for a vast array of data about digitized and born-digital collections from all over the United States, from public to academic to special libraries (think Digital Commonwealth) and national collections (the Smithsonian and the National Archives, for two). Access to the data will be available centrally through a DPLA portal, but also as an open API, enabling anyone, anywhere to develop apps, services, and tools to answer their personal or organizational needs. Keeping the data open in the “cloud” so it can be used by the “crowd” means that librarians in New York and Texas can use it one way, historians in Florida and Alaska another, and maybe even schoolchildren in Australia still another.This talk will provide an introduction to DPLA and its mission and goals, update our Digital Commonwealth partners on our progress, and make a case for opening up our nation’s library, archives, and museum data to the world.

12:00– 1:30       Lunch and Second Keynote

Share and Tell: Digital Stewardship and Digital Storytelling

Butch Lazorchak, Digital Archivist, Library of Congress

Libraries, archives and museums provide the “building blocks” for lifelong learning. Organizations like Digital Commonwealth provide the technical infrastructure to ensure that these digital building blocks are stored, described, made accessible and preserved over time.

The stewardship of digital information is an incredibly valuable service that requires technical expertise and diligence along with significant resources, both human and monetary. But while our community’s expertise in format obsolescence, ingest mechanisms and administrative metadata helps to ensure that the digital materials under our care are technically protected, it doesn’t ensure that people outside our community understand the work we do and its value.

That’s why, more than ever, we need to remember that we’re in the storytelling business.

Storytelling is a way for us to talk passionately about the resources under our care and to build the emotional case that the work we do has value. These are not fairytales; many of the stories we tell don’t necessarily have happy endings. But the resources we steward are the building blocks for our patron’s stories and help people understand their place in history, the economy and the world.

There are so many exciting advances in technology that affect the work we do. We’ll take a quick survey of some interesting things (crowdfunding for government; citizen archivists; personal digital archiving; digital mapping) and try to get to the essence of why they’re important to our profession and our patrons and explore how we can leverage them to tell stories about the incredible value we have in our digital commonwealth.

On April 18 and 19, 2013, the Boston Public Library will host an event at which the Digital Public Library of America will be formally launched.

The underlying system of the DPLA will both aggregate and re-expose metadata drawn from a variety of regional digital library systems. These regional systems will include the initial network of Content and Service Hubs of which Digital Commonwealth has been included. Digital Commonwealth was selected as a pilot DPLA Hub because of the richness and diversity of its content as well as its ability to help members leverage the resources at the Boston Public Library for local digitization projects. As a result of this partnership, descriptive metadata currently searchable and harvestable via Digital Commonwealth systems will also become searchable and harvestable via the DPLA web interface and API. Students, researchers, digital humanists, and applications developers from around the world will now have, at their fingertips, valuable metadata describing digitized cultural heritage materials from Massachusetts, the United States, and beyond. We look forward to the creative and innovative lesson plans, research projects, and learning tools that this consolidated online resource will inspire now and into the future.

At the launch event, Digital Commonwealth will unveil an online exhibition based on the Sports Temples exhibit currently on display at the BPL in Copley Square. The online exhibition will be one of several examples of what will be possible once digital content is made available through the DPLA. Digital Commonwealth has been asked to provide some representative samples of images and corresponding descriptive metadata to be put on display in a variety of formats during the event. Please contact Tom Blake (tblake@bpl.org) if you would like any of your materials to be included in this event, and for further details on how to participate.