DPLA Update

13 Jul 2012

Cross-posted on digitalcultureweek.

Ever since the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) emerged in late 2010 with the promise of creating a nation digital library, it has generated much publicity, enthusiasm, and criticism. I attended the plenary meeting in October 2011 and the excitement was certainly palpable. The meeting began with the announcement of $5 million in funding from the Sloan Foundation and the Arcadia Fund, the Beta Sprint presentations demonstrated the commitment of intellectual energy to the project, and the April 2013 launch date loomed yet seemed manageable. However, the movement seems to have stalled: there are many critical questions that remain unanswered; there is a lack of coordination between the workstreams that has prevented rapid progress, capitalized by the non-existence of an executive to call shots; and the April 2013 launch date continues to loom (less than 9 months!).

Not to be mistaken, the DPLA if full of bright and committed individuals, all of whom are aware of these issues and are working to address them. Here's an overview of what's happened so far in 2012:

Hackathon (April 5): began testing the front-end platform and developing apps. DPLA West (April 27): the workstreams discussed how to better organize their work (e.g. nodes), communicate more effectively, and create incentives for institutions to participate; the steering committee discussed how the organization should be structured and funded as well as the initial architecture of the website. Steering Committee Meeting (June 12): drafted a 5-year plan (xls) and made plans to hire an executive director; discussed development of the back-end metadata platform. Technical Development Plan (July): an outline for creating the front-end DPLA platform and an API by April 2013.

Upcoming Events Audience and Participation workshop (July 27, Baltimore)

Interested in participating? The DPLA website lists number of ways you can get involved. For example, you can help determine how the DPLA front end will look by providing feedback on the Audience and Participation workstream's use cases (better yet, attend the Audience and Participation workshop later this month and share your thoughts in person!).

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