From Maine to Montana, the Digital Public Library of America will serve every state and connect online collections from coast to coast by 2017, thanks in large part to a $3.4 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Along with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities, these two new awards will help the DPLA open new service hubs connecting cultural heritage organizations nationwide through a single national collection.
“With this gracious, continued support from Sloan and Knight, we can continue to focus on our largest strategic effort, which is to expand the DPLA network and provide an on-ramp for all states to participate,” said Emily Gore, DPLA’s director of content. “By building out DPLA’s coverage of state and regional service hubs, new communities and organizations from across the country will have access to essential 21st century services and programs, further enriching the scale and availability of our shared national cultural heritage online.”
Whether it’s written word or the data of science, the DPLA compiles the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them publicly accessible to the world. Right now, its collection includes over 10 millions items from 1,600 institutions nationwide. Launched in 2013, the DPLA initially partnered with 16 major collaborators across nine states. Since then, that number has grown to more than 20 states, and plans to reach all 50 states within the next two years.
These new grants will accelerate the growth of the DPLA’s network of service hubs, or state and regional digital collaborators that host, aggregate, or collect digital objects from places like libraries, museums, or archives in their communities. Through its aggregation of these digital collections, the DPLA has seen the emergence of innovative new projects and tools on a global scale, from curated exhibitions on the golden age of radio to an app that shows how many items an institution has contributed to the DPLA.
“The Sloan and Knight foundations have been such generous contributors to DPLA’s success, from our planning phase to the rapid build-out of our national network,” said Dan Cohen, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, in a press release. “With these twin grants, we will be able to bring online 16 new states, and approach completion of that network.”
The Knight Foundation also just announced its international call for ideas on innovating libraries through its second Knight News Challenge on Libraries.
“An informed and engaged public is a prerequisite of American democracy. Libraries – be they physical or digital – play a fundamental role in encouraging people to know more about and become involved in the places where they live. DPLA brings to life the unique items locked away in our nation’s libraries and archives while providing an invaluable opportunity to bring this information into people’s lives and homes – better connecting them to each other and their communities,” said Jorge Martinez, vice president and chief technology officer at Knight Foundation, in a press release.
Meg Dalton (@megdalts) is the associate editor of PBS MediaShift and Idea Lab.