Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

Urban Libraries Council Webinar.
Fri 3/23/12

Part 1:
Susan Hildreth
Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services  (IMLS)

“What is DPLA?  It is a 2 year planning project bringing together a large and diverse group of stakeholders to plan for great coherent national access to knowledge – an updated version of the great American public library of the early 20th Century, free to all.”

The IMLS is a strong supporter of the DPLA because it fits right in with the IMLS’ vision, mission, and strategic goals.

“Planning for a large-scale digital public library to make museum, library, and archive information available, free of charge, to all.”

DPLA is managed by the Berkman Center at Harvard and funded by the Sloan Foundation.

It includes working groups focusing on governance, content, technology, and legal issues.

The Proof of Concept phase ends April 2013.

Many federal partners are involved, including content-owners Government Printing Office (GPO), Library of Congress (LoC), National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), and the Smithsonian.  IMLS is the facilitator and the state and local government connector. 

Another big provider of content is the Digital Collections and Content Registry (DCCR) out of the University of Illinois,Urbana-Champaign.  It’s a service operated with the IMLS for over 10 years, and it contains metadata for 1 million items from 1,000 collections of 200 organizations, items digitized with IMLS funds.  Its large collection of metadata and identified best practices support the DPLA effort.

DCCR has 2 foci
  1. Increased interoperability among digital collections.
  2. Improved presentation and discovery of digital collections.

Some of the steps involved in creating a blueprint for a National Digital Public Library:
    • Convening to identify key concerns/opportunities for expanded public library participation in national digitization efforts.
    • Fall 2011:  Survey of more than 200 public libraries to create a preliminary agenda.
    • November 2011:  A forum in Los Angeles funded by the IMLS/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation offered a variety of presentations and audience discussion sessions.
    • Spring and Summer 2012:  Los Angeles Public Library and her partners will disseminate/invite comments on the “next steps.”

Part 2:
Building a Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
John Palfrey
Harvard Law

The DPLA is trying to create the learning environments of the future - what libraries can be.

It’s in development - a 2 year planning process.  It’s an emerging project/process.

Intended to be multi-media.

Slide 1 – Picture of the private study of Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr.

How do we make a virtual something as compelling as these physical libraries were? The DPLA process is partially an investigation into how to create compelling and really functional learning environments for the 21st Century.  Also an inquiry into how we can define them instead of having them defined for us, both by the tech and the tech creators.

Free to all” is currently in crisis. Libraries can’t be less able to provide “Free to all” in the future than we have in the past.  We must maintain that ideal.

The Cloud is where data/knowledge is moving to.  And the amount of data is growing unbelievably fast. In fact, “90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last 2 years alone.”  The idea is for the DPLA to make sure the best of cloud computing is not solely in the hands of the corporations. 

Access to content changes from one day to the next, as with Penguin. Not ideal.

The DPLA would partner with corporations and other data producers.

It’d bring together information architects and experts on information dissemination.

Currently, those working on the DPLA don’t really know what they’re doing - by design.  It’s supposed to be a discovery process – discussing and ruminating on ideas and possible plans to hopefully come up with something new and exciting and viable. 

“In October 2010, 30 people came together at Radcliffe and committed themselves to work toward…an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in the current and future generations.”  This is still DPLA’s guiding statement.  It’s very ambitious and a little crazy, but the DPLA really needs that scope.

Other guiding thoughts:
Bringing people together
Great principles

However, this effort is not totally unbounded.  There are 5 central elements.

From the slide of a graphic artist’s representation of code matters:

  • Use aggregations to build
  • Metadata!
  • Data tagging
  • Interactive map of collections
  • User-centered
  • Shared Access
  • Visual Discovery
  • Curate
  • Multi-Channeling
  • Local to National Bridge
  • No Walls!
  • ExtraMUROS:  How many ways can we make the most of Metadata?
  • What is Open Link?
  • University of MN, HathiTrust, CIC (Big 10 schools)
  • Mass Digital Content
  • Linked Open Data
  • Mappings
  • MINT
  • Building context
  • Enhance discovery using linked data
  • Building navigable legislative history
  • Interactive world
  • As aggregation evolves, new tasks, new services
  • Already used globally!
  • Different way of representing data; simpler and more useful
  • ShelfLife
  • A real place
  • Gather metadata; Provide visual editor to create crosswalks; Remediate metadata
  • Are mappings published?
  • Bookworm:  How you find things: Search vs. browse
  • What’s your motivation?
 One of DPLA’s big pushes will be to gather and create open source code that other libraries can use so nobody’s reinventing the wheel.  

DPLA wants to provide open access to metadata gathered from all over and made available on the “library cloud”.  Cataloging records, circ records, etc.

From the slide of a graphic artist’s representation of content matters:
·        Where’s our Carnegie today?
·        Cater to the standard user
·        Blueprint for libraries
·        Keep public funding
·        Content & Scope
·        Who’s our audience?
·        Explore all mechanisms for aiding the DPLA in this initiative
·        Will the DPLA HOLD content?
·        Collaborate
·        FREE content for all

Find a way so everyone can find content.

We should be more coordinated in what we’re digitizing.

Collaborate regardless on collection size - no competing.

No one, including the DPLA, can go it alone.

DPLA is not meant to put anybody out of business; meant to be a sharing center - open access - open source.

Possibly keep a digital copy in DPLA so everyone can download and access.

Tools & Services
DPLA would provide a series of tools and sources that everyone can use. For instance, have an iPad app that everyone can use.  Again, sharing instead of reinventing the wheel.

Scannebago – a Winnebago (or some other vehicle) with scanners to go out to the community and offer scanning services.  Especially the local, public domain items that just aren’t a priority for most of the current scanning efforts. Coordinate efforts.

2 paid people are working on the DPLA.  The vision is supplementing them with a huge number of volunteers.  A community effort and buy-in.  

There are active listervs.  

Don’t envision an institution with a big headquarters.  Similar development to the Internet Engineering Task Force  or Wikimedia.  

There would be a group of people who come together once a year to improve the DPLA.  Geek gathering.  Grassroots.  

Shared resource - both in the creation and the end product.  

Where we are:
Beta Sprint: One group was ready to start immediately. The idea of a digital library has been discussed for a long time – long before the DPLA was even conceived of.  Others said there’s still a lot to discuss.  DPLA elected to split the difference with the Beta Sprint.  Bring us your code!  Put out a call for programs and partial programs – with the understanding that the original developers would be relinquishing their rights.  DPLA got 39 unbelievable submissions.  Everything from code NARA, the Smithsonian, and the GPO worked on together, to some smallish pieces.  There are 2 programmers working on it, and they’ll be rolling out a prototype April 2013. It shows what might be done; it’s NOT the final product.  There’s lots of exciting technical development involved.

Lots of meetings.  There’s a series of plenary meetings, and “workstreams”  meetings covering aspects of the DPLA.  They bring together all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds.  Collaborative.  In person and virtual. Workstreams have open listservs, as well as open meetings. Meeting notes, etc. are being posted online.

Trying to show what an open and transparent organization would look like online.

Global vision:
Recognize necessity of global vision

Also recognize that world library would be a disaster - watered down, discord, etc.

So the goal is not standardized - not one big global library - but interoperative with other national global libraries.  A consumer could navigate through all these national collections relatively seamlessly without having to gain direct access to any of them.  

Experimenting with emigrating collections – moving collections from one format to another, and one database to another.  Currently working on a demonstration project, which will be followed by other demo projects.

We’re behind in this.  Europeana – the European digital library, for instance. 

Utopian?  Ambitious? Crazy? It kind of is.  But we need to think big.  We need to have an alternative that’s in the public interest.  Aim for something positive that honors those ideals.  Partner with the private, but create a whole that’s bigger than the sum of its parts.

Part 3:
Luis Herrera
City Librarian
San Francisco Public

We need to talk about and have the voice of public libraries, of all types.

What are the practical approaches and applications at the local level?  How will it enhance user experience?  How do I get involved as staff member and individual?

It’s not just what can DPLA do for public libraries, but what can public libraries do for DPLA.

Public libraries can become content creators and content contributors. SFPL started digitizing photos, neighborhood histories, periodicals, etc., and making it available through the Internet Archives.  They’re also working on city records, but they’re not currently accessible.  DPLA would be a possibility.

We should get members of the community engaged in creating content.  For example, Denver Public’s collections, including Western heritage. 

It’s important to spread the word about the potential of DPLA, and to address the confusion about it to make it inclusive. Help public libraries figure out how to produce a digital strategy. How do they do that?  How to strategize? Prioritize? Get involved?

Part 4:
Amy Ryan
Boston Public Library

Public Libraries are essential to DPLA successfully achieving its missions. Free to all. Commitment to information access is essential to our success.  DPLA is essential to that.

PBL houses its own state-of-the-art digital lab, as well as the Internet Archive’s. BPL has digitized thousands of items - photos, advertising, maps. They house John Adams’ library.  Before digitization, they had about 10-12 visits a year for them.  Since digitization, that collection has had 1 million hits.  BPL is also funded by state as the Library for the Commonwealth.  Therefore they digitize items from historical societies and libraries from throughout MA. BPL goes to them, helps assess collections, brings them back to BPL, and digitizes them. For instance, they have deeds for land that goes back to the Pilgrims. This assures access.  

Part 5:

Q: Do you host open library programs to let community know about digitization?  

Amy Ryan (BPL): We reach out to the Massachusetts Library conference.

Luis Herrera (SFPL): It’s part of our strategy.  We have small grants that community members can get to digitize materials, neighborhood histories, for instance. We make sure our community outreach talks about digitization.

Susan Hildreth (IMLS): DPLA’s primary audience right now is organizations (libraries, historical societies, etc.) for digitization.

John Palfrey (Harvard Law): DPLA’s strategy to go to groups and build up cool content, and then go to individuals and the general public and get them excited and then involved. The Audience Participation Workstream is talking about this.

Q: How is DPLA related to or different from HathiTrust?

A:  No reinventing the wheel - be complementary. Basic tenet of DPLA.  Hathitrust and the Internet Archive are important colleagues.  We’ve met with them to try to carve out a way to help instead of compete. HathiTrust is academically oriented - DPLA is more public library oriented. Mainly we want to collaborate to make things more accessible.

We envision that most people won’t go through DPLA website.  Go through public library websites and access resources.  Public Libraries will be able to get code from DPLA that they can take and configure as they please.  DPLA might very well be invisible - that’s great!  

The Governance Workstream is working on what kind of organization will DPLA be?  Details and brass tacks.  Open governance processes.

More collaborative, less competitive.

Q:  What about patron privacy?

Susan Hildreth (IMLS): Very strongly held value at DPLA.  Development work is going forward, but we don’t have a definite answer.

John Palfrey (Harvard Law): However the Legal Workstream is heavily discussing “reader privacy.”   Also being discussed in the Technical Aspects Workstream.  Should a patron have the ability to access the DPLA directly, or should everyone sign in through their local library? Should anyone have to sign in at all?  Don’t want a National ID card situation.  Don’t want to withhold functionality.  

Q:  Are you limiting content to public domain?  Are you developing the technology to protect copyrighted material?

Amy Ryan (BPL): BPL has a contract with Boston School of the Blind to digitize copyrighted items for the blind.  The blind have a different relationship with copyright because of access issues.  Try to maintain the spirit of copyright but make content available.

John Palfrey (Harvard Law): It’s easy to say work with the public domain now and do the hard stuff later. Looking at where law allows access is crucial.  Nudging around boundaries of what the law allows. Possibly bring issues to the attention of the public. For instance orphan works

Questions DPLA’s asking:
Does is make sense for DPLA to try to make copyrighted material available?
Should the DPLA be in the business of asking for copyright reform?  Orphan works legislation?

DPLA’s also having a conversation about digitizing newspapers.  At issue are both copyright (newspapers have a large orphan works zone) and the scale of newspapers.  Digitizing a run takes lots of resources.  Where should the emphasis be in scanning and digitization?  I would love to see the community say what they want digitized and have the DPLA facilitate that.  Grassroots collection development.

Q:  What about ContentDM?

John Palfrey (Harvard Law): That’s database software for digitized materials. We want to make any software we use interoperable.  Is DPLA going to be a repository of content?  If so, how to we stay collaborative instead of competitive? Or will DPLA just provide access to the content?  Who will be responsible for making that content evergreen (work with new formats and technologies)? DPLA as repository of last resort?  If someone wants digitized content but can’t host it. Interoperability over time as data formats change?  Keep a copy squirreled away somewhere in a basic format so it could be made compatible with a later format over time? Hub and a Network? He doesn’t think that it’ll be a be-all and end-all repository.

Q:  What about the Google digitization project?

A:  We want to reach out to Google and Amazon and others.  Various organizations who are partners with DPLA are working with Google Books and DPLA hopes to get some of that content into DPLA eventually.  

Q:  How do you foresee small archives held by community groups participating in DPLA?

A:  Grassroots digitization is very important.  Local history is crucial.  Maybe DPLA will act as a conduit of access.  Maybe offer the possibility of digitization and codigital collection building.

John Palfrey (Harvard Law): Funding for the DPLA.  Hopes to see minimum funding to core DPLA and as much as possible to partner organizations to do these kinds of projects.  Grassroots digitization.  Grassroots innovation.

DPLA = Enabler?

IMLS can bring in best practices and models to DPLA for digitization. DPLA can help libraries figure out digital strategy.  

Melissa @ Central

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