2016 DLF Comm/Cap Awards: meet the nominees!


Community/Capacity Awards imageThe Community/Capacity Awards (DLF Comm/Caps, for short) are a new debt of gratitude from the DLF membership, selected biennially by vote. We are pleased to announce the nominees for the 2016 DLF Comm/Cap Awards!

Each DLF member organization gets one vote; you decide locally how to make your pick! Voting is open from June 1 – June 27, 2016 (at 11:59PM ET). Voting has now closed. Please help us congratulate our 2016 award recipients! (It’s a tie!).

These are not awards for pure innovation, individualism, or disruption. Instead, they honor constructive, community-minded capacity-building in digital libraries and allied fields: efforts that contribute to our ability to collaborate across institutional lines and/or work toward something larger, together. The Comm/Caps are about community spirit, generosity, openness, and care for fellow digital library, archives, and museum practitioners and for the various publics and missions we serve.

The 2016 DLF Comm/Cap Award will go to an inspiring project, team, or person selected by the Digital Library Federation membership at large (one org, one vote: we will send voting instructions soon to DLF’s primary contact at each member organization; you decide locally how to make your pick!).

The 2016 DLF Comm/Cap Award winner (person or group) will receive a $1000 prize, one free Forum registration, and some level of assistance toward travel expenses to make it possible for a representative to accept the award certificate in person at the 2016 DLF Forum, which will be held in Milwaukee, WI, November 7-9th.

Congratulations and thank you to all nominees!

American Archive of Public Broadcasting

Coordinating a national effort to preserve & make accessible significant historical public television and radio.

American Archive of Public Broadcasting

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting, led by WGBH and the Library of Congress, has coordinated a national effort to preserve and make accessible significant historical content created by public media and are preserving at-risk public broadcasting before its content is lost to posterity. To date, more than 40,000 hours of content contributed by more than 100 organizations across the country have been digitized. The entire collection is accessible on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress. Together, WGBH, the Library, and participating organizations have made more than 12,000 programs available online for research, educational and informational purposes, becoming a focal point for discoverability of historical public media content.

The American Yawp

The first free and online, open American history textbook built through a mass collaboration of academic historians

The American Yawp: A Free and Online, Collaboratively Built American History Textbook
The American Yawp: A Free and Online, Collaboratively Built American History Textbook

Over 350 academic historians collaborated on a massive scale to produce the American Yawp, a free and online, collaboratively built, open American history textbook released for the 2015-2016 academic year. It has been adopted at dozens of institutions and has attracted hundreds of thousands of unique users in its first full year, proving the viability of combining open resources with large-scale academic cooperation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, textbook prices have jumped fifteenfold over the past 40 years, three times the rate of inflation. The College Board has found that the typical student now spends $1,200 every year on textbooks and supplies. Moreover, community colleges and other educational institutions catering to nontraditional or first-generation college students still rely heavily on traditional textbooks: the very students least able to afford these ever-increasing costs are the most likely to bear them. By harnessing the collective capacity of the historical profession, and by opening quality material for all, the American Yawp is reshaping the production and distribution of educational resources.

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Collaborating Across Boundaries: Building Capacity and Access for a Digital Library

Biodiversity Heritage Library

An international consortium of over two dozen organizations, the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) stands out not only in its service to its own partners, but also in its collaborative approach with the wider library community and openness in making content and data available to users worldwide. To build and maximize capacity across partners, BHL provides intensive workshops on strategies for contributing content, reaching 42 participants from 25 institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, and the U.S., including the IMLS-funded Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature (EABL) project team. EABL further expands BHL’s reach by identifying and supporting participation in BHL by smaller U.S. institutions. In ‘The Best of Both Worlds,’ former Smithsonian Secretary Clough notes BHL is: “An impressive example of what can be accomplished by digitization of library resources through a collaborative approach” (p.43). This highly collaborative approach serves BHL’s users with a constantly growing collection of open access biodiversity literature, including materials often physically available in limited locations throughout the world. Each month, 120,000+ visitors benefit from this improved access. Users frequently submit enthusiastic testimonials: “BHL…provides access to historical material… that logistically and time-wise would otherwise prove very difficult if not impossible to find and access…” A signatory of the Bouchout Declaration, BHL’s commitment to open access extends beyond making scanned pages available through BHL. Content is available via Internet Archive, Digital Public Library of America, and Europeana; over 100,000 scientific illustrations via Flickr; and BHL’s suite of APIs brings BHL data directly to users.

Digital Library of the Caribbean

Working together across borders to preserve and to provide enhanced electronic access to Caribbean materials with a multilingual web interface

Digital Library of the Caribbean

The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) began with the dream of the founding partners to create a shared, international, multi-lingual collaborative digital library for preservation and access, and to ensure dLOC was designed for ongoing, sustainable growth, for and with the community. dLOC was created on the foundation of shared governance, equitable representation, diversity and inclusivity, and technology leveraged and created by and for the community (under the expectation that technology should not dictate policy or actions). dLOC has grown over the past twelve years, and now includes over 40 partner institutions, financially supporting member institutions, scholar, and other contributors following dLOC’s community-sourcing model which recognizes, draws and builds upon, and connects the many communities with dLOC, with the necessary supports for review, training, and capacity development. dLOC continues to grow with classes, digital scholarship, data curation, new trainings, and new programs. Overall, dLOC is a community system, designed, maintained, sustained, developed, and grown by and for the community as part of increasing community capacity by connecting and growing the community together.

Digital POWRR

Increasing the confidence, capacities, and capabilities of the less-technically-inclined to take a proactive role in managing and preserving their digital collections

Digital POWRR

The work performed by Digital POWRR throughout both an initial IMLS National Leadership grant, and a subsequent NEH Preservation and Access Education & Training grant, has been firmly rooted in producing tangible results that could be easily applied in local contexts through the cultural heritage community. The resources produced by POWRR include a white paper that compares digital preservation solutions with an eye on affordability and ease of implementation; a comprehensive tool grid (which led to the COPTR digital preservation tool registry); enhancements to the Data Accessioner tool; and a very successful workshop that provides attendees with a highly humanized. personalized, hands-on experience. POWRR’s main mission has been to empower practitioners who lack key institutional resources, and give them the confidence to take the initial steps forward towards stabilizing and preserving their digital materials. Leveraging tools and approaches created by the NDSA and DPOE program, POWRR has succeeded in broadening the community and giving voice to those who sometimes feel that they work on the margins.

Dorothea Salo

and RADD (Recovering Analog and Digital Data) building digital archiving capacity for small libraries/institutions

Dorothea Salo

Dorothea Salo has worked with SLIS students at UW-Madison to build digital archiving systems for small libraries and institutions. For example, they constructed several book scanning cradles from scratch (and at low cost) to donate to libraries that can’t afford their own digitization infrastructure but have collections that need digitization. Salo’s nominators tell us how she built the “RADD” (Recovering Analog and Digital Data – a complete analog to digital archiving system) ecosystem in the UW-Madison SLIS library – the next phase of which is to develop “mini-RADDs” to provide this crucial digital archiving infrastructure to small libraries and institutions, enabling them to provide personal digital archiving services in their communities.

Explore Chicago Collections

Explore Chicago Collections and Metadata Hopper, integrating access to Chicago’s Archives

Explore Chicago Collections

Explore Chicago Collections (EXPLORE) is the foundational digital initiative pursued by 20+ members of Chicago Collections, a consortium of libraries, museums, and archives collaborating to preserve and share the history and culture of the Chicago region. EXPLORE unites over 104,000 digitized images and over 4,400 archival collections, providing unparalleled access and enabling users— from seasoned researchers, to high school students, and the general public— to see the intricate connections between member collections. A hallmark of EXPLORE is it does not require members to adhere to shared standards for metadata or descriptive terminology. Analysis showed that no two members implemented EAD in the same way. Metadata structures for images were even more varied. Variations in descriptive practice were the greatest challenge, with over 13,000 subject terms, nearly half of which led to only a single item, and only 10% of which were used by more than one library. Behind EXPLORE is the Metadata Hopper system, released to the open source community in December 2015. Metadata Hopper enables archivists to define what any local XML standard means, then automatically links terms in the original metadata to a shared, simplified vocabulary for browsing topics, neighborhoods, cities, and names. All original metadata is kept and searchable, yet the end-user sees a simple, easy to browse interface. Metadata Hopper enables Chicago Collections members to contribute to a shared discovery system without disrupting their local practices. It is also entirely configurable for use by other libraries and archives for other subject areas and media types.

IIIF Consortium and Community

Building community and capacity for standards-based image delivery


The hard work of the IIIF community over the past several years has made delivering images much easier, more robust, and better supported, as well as opening up new opportunities to collaborate and share resources. The IIIF community has collaborated across institutions to develop standards which solve real challenges cultural heritage organizations have in making their materials available to wider audiences. The increasing adoption of these standards is a testament to how the editors have worked in the open and listened carefully to the community for a broad range of use cases and technical feedback and thoughtfully incorporated community reactions into revisions. One goal of standards work is to have multiple implementations. The IIIF standards have lead to more choice including open source software and commercial services. The community has developed applications including image servers, pan/zoom viewers, and book readers. Increasingly adopters have the assurance that using applications that adhere to the IIIF standards allows for more flexibility and less lock-in. The community has also begun work to develop novel tools for researchers to pull together resources from across institutions while respecting each institution’s access and authorization policies. Every sign points to the growth of the community and more novel work leveraging these standards. They are now taking the same approach to create the smooth path for sharing and reuse of other media types like newspapers, video, audio, and 3D renderings.

The Islandora Consortium Group

Working together to find ways in which small institutions can actively contribute to open-source software

The Islandora Consortium Group

The Islandora Consortium Group (ICG) is a group of institutions working together to support and extend Islandora through code development, resource pooling, and advocacy. The goal is to find ways in which smaller organizations can use and develop the open-source digital repository software, Islandora, effectively and successfully. Each member is united by a commitment to open-source software and its community model, and recognize that it is difficult to do this alone, as relatively small institutions. Members contribute by writing code and making our chosen software platform, Islandora, the best it can be by contributing that code to the community. ICG has held one “hack/doc” event that brought together developers, testers, documenters, systems administrators, UI designers, and end users, broadening event participation and allowing everyone to learn from each other, no matter what organizational role they play. ICG welcomes anyone that would like to participate in their model and their hack/doc events so that they can help contribute to the larger Islandora community. ICG seeks to expand the capacity of smaller organizations to contribute to a larger open-source community.

Library as Incubator

Promoting and facilitating creative collaboration between libraries and artists of all types, and advocating for libraries as incubators of the arts.

Library as Incubator


The Library as Incubator Project has grown into the definitive resource not only for collaborations between artists and libraries, but for how libraries, archives, and museums, of all kinds (including digital) and all budgets (including zero) can design collections, programs, and services that promote creativity in their users and their communities of all ages. The projects and resources they highlight go past mere crafts (not that there’s anything wrong with crafts!)—they have covered sharing digital art created in the library, digital exhibitions platforms, software-as-service models for libraries, permissions, professional development for labs, digital collections of writers’ and artists’ materials, and much more. Overall, Library as Incubator helps build creative capacity among libraries and librarians, and fosters a creative library community, which benefits everyone and not just artists. Among their international coverage, they’ve featured the work of many DLF member institutions, including NYPL, the Met, Columbia University, Vassar College, University of Wisconsin, Carnegie Mellon, and others.

Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative

Building capacity for large-scale audiovisual preservation and contributing to best practice development in the field

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r4e0xWxrO8?rel=0]Announced by Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie in October 2013, the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative (MDPI) is charged with digitally preserving and providing access to all significant audio and video recordings on all IU campuses by the IU Bicentennial in 2020. The work being generated by the MDPI is both contributing to the knowledge of the entire community and inspiring further development of the national infrastructure to support audiovisual preservation. As a result of the MDPI project, for example, the HydraDAM2 project is building out the functionalities of a Hydra repository to support large A/V collections. Community projects like the Digital Preservation Network are also utilizing MDPI to build their own capacities and to create better connections for knowledge-sharing.

Mid Michigan Digital Practitioners

MMDP: Deepening Community & Capacity in Michigan & Beyond

MMDP Meeting Spring 2016

For three years and counting, the Mid Michigan Digital Practitioners (MMDP) have been fostering close digital collaborations across libraries, archives, historical societies, and other private/public entities. Each year, new institutions from across the state of Michigan are joining and learning from one another, making professional connections, and forming new partnerships to advance their digital initiatives. The group meets twice-annually and looks to a fresh member institution to host each new meeting. Every meeting aims to be low-cost, low-barrier, and highly informal to encourage robust participation and exchange. Institutions educate each other, share updates on their digitization work and their digital repository building efforts, and report out candidly on both successes and challenges throughout the year. The MMDP meetings have garnered the acclaim and support from the Michigan Archival Association (MAA) and have become an essential resource for Michigan institutions that are interested in future engagements with broader national initiatives like the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The MMDP Planning Team rotates its participation from year-to-year and works hand-in-hand with each host institution to document meetings and foster continuity. Slides, video recordings, and workshop materials from all past events are available on the MMDP website. The group looks forward to its next meeting this fall at Michigan State University!

Museum Hue

Working toward increased “diversity in patrons, professionals, and cultural producers in the creative economy”

Museum Hue

Museum Hue is a fairly new organization committed to strong values of and practical projects about 1) Museums as Cultural Learning Labs; 2) Creating Embracing Spaces in Museums; 3) Sustainable Futures for Arts & Culture Workers from a more diverse array of backgrounds than has been common in cultural heritage institutions. Their open and inclusive “Huesday” conversations, targeted professional development programming, and museum tours for people of color are an inspiration.

Neil McElroy

Bridge building among communities

On April 25, the Excellence in Academic Libraries award from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) was presented to Neil McElroy, dean of libraries, in an official ceremony at Skillman Library.

Neil McElroy (dean of libraries at Lafayette College) spearheaded the creation of the DLF Liberal Arts Colleges group, organizing a first DLF LAC meeting a few years ago. He identified DLF as a potential home for LACs working on digital initiatives and worked with the organization to shape a sustained conversation about liberal arts colleges and digital scholarship. This then resulted in an unprecedented number of LACs joining DLF, augmenting DLF Forum conversations with perspectives that we otherwise wouldn’t have from our R1 colleagues. As well, Neil was instrumental in creating Lever Press. He was among the first four people to conceive of the original idea (along with Bryn Geffert, Mark Christel, and Mike Roy), he was on the initial task force that came up with the start of a business plan in 2013, and he continues to serve on the oversight committee. “Neil is unassuming,” his nominator wrote, “yet extremely influential in creating opportunities not only for community building among LACs, but between LACs and other communities.” (Pictured above, McElroy accepts, on behalf of Lafayette College’s Skillman Library, the Excellence in Academic Libraries award from the Association of College and Research Libraries ACRL in 2014.)


A task force of archivists striving to motivate the archival community to affect climate change

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 12.38.36 PM

ProjectARCC members “believe that archivists, those responsible for the preservation of history for future generations, should be passionate and concerned about preserving a habitable and safe planet for future generations.” Founded in 2015, this collective focuses on four major goals: 1) Protect archival collections from the impact of climate change; 2) Reduce our professional carbon and ecological footprint; 3) Elevate relevant collections to improve public awareness and understanding of climate change; 4) Preserve this epochal moment in history for future research and understanding

Santi Thompson

Driving the DLF Assessment Interest Group

Santi Thompson

Santi Thompson is the primary driver behind the incredible success of the DLF Assessment Interest Group. His nominators tell us that Santi’s “unflagging drive and ability to herd cats and keep them to a timeline are exceptional.” Because of him, this group is continues to engage numerous people across institutions to make a real difference in the effectiveness of our work as digital librarians. Already this group has published 3 white papers and developed a beta tool for evaluating the costs of digitization projects. He is the one who organized people following the last DLF Forum into subgroups and ensured they had beginning meeting times and leaders. Additionally, he’s been developing funding applications to help our effort towards developing best practices and guidelines in digital library assessment. Santi “continues to drive us towards results, and consistently follows through with emails and calls to ensure we’re all in sync and on task.”

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