The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, and museums, and makes them freely available to the world. It strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. For most of American history, the ability to access materials for free through public libraries has been a central part of our culture, producing generations of avid readers and a knowledgeable, engaged citizenry. DPLA works … to ensure that this critical, open intellectual landscape remains vibrant and broad in the face of increasingly restrictive digital options. DPLA seeks to multiply openly accessible materials to strengthen the public option that libraries represent in their communities. (About DPLA)
Apart from providing access to one of the largest digital collections, DPLA also hosts DPLAfest; the annual series of workshops, presentations, and discussions are centered on using DPLA’s open API for transformative uses of digitized cultural heritage. DPLAfest is more than an annual celebration—participants are encouraged to sketch, prototype, and build out educational tools using DPLA’s resources. So far, developers, teachers, students, and researchers have used the data for engaging apps and novel learning environments. DPLAfest also inspired the creation of “Hack-in-a-box”, a guide for implementing a successful hackathon in any setting.
In addition to hosting an annual festival, DPLA has also received a Whiting Foundation grant to explore educational possibilities for its ever-expanding collection. The grant allows DPLA to host face-to-face meetings for educators in K-12 schools, community colleges, small colleges, and research universities. The meetings will determine what DPLA—as well as other large-scale digital collections—can do to ensure their resources will address educational needs, and the discussions will fuel DPLA’s development of a comprehensive educational plan. The meetings and resulting paper should go a long way towards proving DPLA’s worth as a pedagogical tool for the classroom.