RootsTech 2014

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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Additional Libraries Join the Digital Public Library of America

The number of participating libraries is growing for the soon-to-be released online Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). If you haven't noticed, many public libraries have opened up collections of eBooks and Audio books that can be checked out of the library, just like a paper copy, but the digital version has the advantage of checking itself back into the library when the borrowing time is expired.

A major obstacle preventing the even more rapid expansion of the online offerings is the disparity in methods for borrowing library materials and incompatibilities between the formats of the online documents. As an example, I recently found a book I wanted to download from the Greater Phoenix Digital Public Library, after downloading I had an error message stating that the file format was not supported by my device. This type of error is one of the many issues confronting the DPLA.

Here is a brief statement of the objectives of the DPLA:

The Digital Public Library of America 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. The DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used. More information is online at http://dp.la. To find out more about the DPLA launch, April 18-19 in Boston, visit http://dp.la/get-involved/events/launch/.

Recently, the Biodiversity Heritage Library announced that it will serve as a digital content hub within the Digital Public Library of America. Quoting from the announcement:
Biodiversity Heritage Library partners comprise 15 natural history libraries in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. They are committed to working together to digitize the published literature of biodiversity held in their respective collections and making that literature available for open access and responsible use as a part of a global “biodiversity commons.” The BHL Secretariat is hosted by Smithsonian Libraries. The Technical Director and portal development team are hosted by Missouri Botanical Garden. Affiliated BHL projects have been established in Europe, China, Australia, and Brazil. To further explore the new BHL, visit http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/.
As other libraries come onboard with the DPLA, it appears that this will constitute a major source of online information in the very near future. On April 18, the DPLA will launch the first beta version. In its first iteration, the DPLA will combine a group of rich, interesting digital collections, from state and regional digital archives to the special collections of major university libraries and federal holdings.

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