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Pennsylvania Library Leaders Announce New Initiative to Increase Access to Commonwealth’s Digital Collections

March 31, 2015

From Catherine Wilt, Executive Director, the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium (PALCI)–

Efforts to make digital collections held by Pennsylvania libraries, museums, and related cultural heritage organizations widely and freely available via the web are under way. In August 2014, a state-wide group of library leaders from the Office of Commonwealth Libraries/the State Library, Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State University, the Free Library of Philadelphia, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the University of Scranton, Access Pennsylvania/HSLC, the Keystone Library Network, the Interlibrary Delivery Service (IDS) of Pennsylvania, Scranton Public Library, and the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium (PALCI) convened to explore opportunities and interest in collaborating to this end. The first step is the appointment of the PA-DPLA Planning Group, which is working to establish a Pennsylvania hub on the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The PA-DPLA Planning Group has just completed a survey of cultural heritage organizations to determine which have digital collections and which are able and ready to participate in the early phases of this effort. With 207 institutions responding thus far, half of the institutions report they have digitization collections and related activities in place where the others do not. More information on the findings from this survey is available here.

A proposed organizational model has been developed to address governance and management, technology, metadata, standards, and content. Active involvement from information and collections professionals from across the Commonwealth will be needed to make this project a success. Therefore the PA Digital Listserv has been established as an open forum for discussing Pennsylvania digital collections and the PA-DPLA project, specifically.

Stacey Aldrich, Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Office of Commonwealth Libraries, acknowledges the importance of this effort. “Pennsylvania is a state rich in history and culture. Our libraries and other cultural institutions have been collecting, preserving, and connecting people to the resources that tell the story of our state and country for over 200 years. This important project will make our stories more accessible and available to the world.”

Through this project, PA-DPLA will become one of the partner hubs in DPLA, supporting a state-wide technology infrastructure to make the Pennsylvania digital resources available through the DPLA portal. Partner hubs in DPLA include a wide variety of institutions including the National Archives; UCLA; state-wide groups in North Carolina, Minnesota, and Georgia; and the New York Public Library to mention a few. DPLA’s goal is to bring together the riches of America’s libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites, and make them freely available to students, teachers, researchers, and the general public.

“This is an enormously exciting and long-awaited moment for Pennsylvania’s libraries and cultural heritage organizations,” notes Joe Lucia, Dean of Libraries at Temple University. “It opens a path for the global sharing of the uniquely rich materials in our collections and supports the development of educational and research applications that will serve many audiences across our state and the world, from children in Pennsylvania’s K-12 classrooms to scholars of colonial American history working in offices a continent away. Our DPLA service hub project demonstrates the direct value of collaborative action by libraries and cultural institutions to serve the public good.”

How to Get Involved

While this project is in the early stages, we invite libraries and all cultural institutions to get involved now and stay informed through the channels listed below.

Fill out the survey

Subscribe to the PA Digital Listserv

  • Send a message to listserv@listserv.albright.org.
  • Type SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.
  • Type only SUBSCRIBE PADIGITAL Firstname Lastname in the body of the message and send.

Direct questions about the discussion list to Scott Thomas at scott@albright.org.

Contact the Pennsylvania DPLA Planning Group for more information

  • For more information about efforts to create a Pennsylvania hub in the Digital Public Library of America, e-mail us at dplainpa@gmail.com.
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