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Updates for November, 2012

Digital Commonwealth chosen as “Service Hub” for Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is working to establish the first truly national digital library of the United States. As an initial stage toward accumulating content for its collection, the DPLA has chosen seven regional or state digital repositories as “Service Hubs” from which the DPLA will harvest content. We are proud to announce that the Digital Commonwealth was chosen as one of those Hubs. For information about the DPLA and the Hubs Pilot program, view this announcement on the DPLA website. The page also includes a video presentation by Emily Gore, the DPLA’s first paid staff member.

MIT Communications Forum features Robert Darnton speaking about the DPLA
On November 1, 2012, Robert Darnton, Director of Harvard Libraries, spoke about the vision of the Digital Public Library of America at an MIT symposium “Digitizing the Culture of Print: The Digital Public Library of America and Other Urgent Projects.” Also included on the panel were Ann Wolpert, Director of MIT Libraries, and Susan Flannery, Director of Libraries for the city of Cambridge.

Dr. Darnton serves on the steering committee of the DPLA. As a distinguished scholar of 18th century American and French history, Darnton spoke about the motivation of the DPLA project to extend the democratization of access to knowledge by freely offering not just the choicest publications from imminent research collections but also digitized historical primary source materials.

Emphasizing the democratic nature of the DPLA enterprise, Darnton stressed the motivation to reach and involve people at the grassroots level. He even envisioned the DPLA organizing mobile scan labs he called “scannebagoes” that would go out and help people digitize stuff from their attics. Perhaps that is a bit far fetched, to think of pulling a scanning van in front of someone’s house, but it certainly isn’t fanciful to think of providing personalized services to small community libraries and historical societies. This is indeed a vision shared by the Digital Commonwealth as we partner with the BPL and now the DPLA to broaden access to the rich cultural heritage of Massachusetts too often hidden in small community collections and work toward sharing that historical record with the world.

The DPLA, Darnton explained, now has a staff of eight at the Berkman Center at Harvard plus over a thousand volunteers around the country working toward creating a nonprofit organizational structure. Currently they are actively seeking a director and the best place for their headquarters.

To view Darnton’s presentation along with Wolpert’s and Flannery’s, the complete video has been made available by MIT.

Digital Commonwealth partnership with the Boston Public Library

One year ago the Digital Commonwealth and the Boston Public Library signed a letter of agreement to work together toward creating new state-wide digital services and repository system that would greatly expand and improve the existing Digital Commonwealth structure. So far this partnership has resulted in a second year of free digital scanning services provided by the BPL and funded by generous grants from the MBLC along with a series of free training workshops organized by the Digital Commonwealth. Our DPLA involvement is yet another result of this lucrative partnership. And next year, the BPL will release a new repository system to replace the aging system that the Digital Commonwealth has been using for the past six years.

We will provide updates and details about the new system being developed by the BPL in future newsletter installments. Meanwhile, please read more details about the Digital Commonwealth/BPL partnership available here.

Free Workshop in the Berkshires
Digital Commonwealth is offering another free workshop  on managing digital projects, this time  in the Berkshires at Sage-Bushnell Library in Sheffield on December 13, 2012. There are still plenty of seats available!!

Also in December, seats are still available for the free workshop at Snow Library in Orleans on Cape Cod taking place on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

Both of these workshops are available for FREE to all Digital Commonwealth members, thanks to the generous grant provided by the MBLC to the Digital Commonwealth and Boston Public Library. For more information and registration please view the workshop information web page.

Save the Date for the 2013 Annual Digital Commonwealth Conference
The date has been set for the next annual Digital Commonwealth Conference to be held on Thursday, April 25, at the Cambridge Hyatt Regency. Once again the Digital Commonwealth will be holding its conference in collaboration with the Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference. We hope to see you there!

Member Votes still  needed to ratify Bylaws revision:

Because the Digital Commonwealth incorporated this year as a nonprofit in Massachusetts, we revised our Bylaws to better suite the requirements of our new status. Three-quarters of the membership must approve the revisions before they can be officially filed with the state. If you haven’t submitted a ballot as yet, please do so as soon as possible. We need your vote!!

Digital Commonwealth is on Facebook!
Check out the many highlights available from Digital Commonwealth collections posted on our Facebook page! Look for us there and ‘like’ us!

Digital Commonwealth’s Partnership with the Boston Public Library

Last fall (November 2011) representatives of the Digital Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Digital Commonwealth) and the Boston Public Library (BPL) signed a letter of agreement stating the intention and commitment of both organizations “to work together towards a shared goal of creating, maintaining and expanding a successful and thriving statewide system to provide access to digital resources found in Massachusetts.”

Since 2007, Digital Commonwealth, a membership-supported collaboration of cultural organizations in Massachusetts, has taken significant steps towards its mission of enabling Massachusetts cultural institutions to create and share digital resources and creating a community of support for participating institutions.  Digital Commonwealth also continues to promote the discovery and use of digital content from the state’s libraries, archives, historical societies, and other cultural institutions, to many audiences

Last fall, within its Library for the Commonwealth program, the Boston Public Library made it clear that it is committed to the development and maintenance of a statewide digital library system as well as the development of a sustainable model for the provision of digital production services for institutions throughout Massachusetts.

The letter of agreement between Digital Commonwealth and the BPL acknowledges that both organizations will share the responsibility of envisioning the functionality of the technical infrastructure, contribute to building a membership base of cultural organizations from all areas of the state, and develop affordable and easy methods for members to share metadata within the statewide system.

The letter of agreement also states that Digital Commonwealth will take the lead on planning outreach activities and conferences and that the BPL will take the lead on developing and maintaining the technological infrastructure, creating user-friendly instructions, and providing some customer service for participating members.

The timing of the partnership between Digital Commonwealth and the BPL is advantageous because Digital Commonwealth’s existing portal and repository ( need to be updated and reworked.  BPL’s repository developers are working on the new system and the plan is for it to be available in spring 2013.  We plan to share updates about the new portal and repository in future newsletters!

When the letter of agreement was written it was acknowledged that the partnership is a work-in-progress.  Over the next couple of months, representatives from Digital Commonwealth’s Executive Committee will be meeting with the appropriate staff of the BPL to review our letter of agreement and work to ensure our partnership is proceeding as smoothly as possible.

Written for the Digital Commonwealth e-newsletter, November 2012