A Librarian in situ: Adventures at DPLAfest in Washington, DC

Jasmine Burns
This conference update was provided by Jasmine Burns, Image Technologies and Visual Literacy Librarian, Indiana University. Twitter: @jazz_with_jazz



Thanks to the generous support of the DPLA + DLF Cross-Pollinator Grant, I spent two fully-packed days wandering through some of the most beautiful (both architecturally and intellectually) institutions in Washington DC. DPLAfest was perfectly self-described: a festival of workshops, conversations, and collaborations between hundreds of librarians, authors, coders, publishers, educators, and more. This community that converged on Capitol Hill left me feeling inspired and exhausted, as I returned home with a laundry list of new ideas and long-term goals.

My initial interest in attending DPLAfest was to gain a closer glimpse into the large and growing community of the Digital Public Library of America. I graduated from an MLIS program last May and immediately started my first professional position in an academic library as the Image Technologies and Visual Literacy Librarian. As an emerging professional, I am still navigating the transient landscape of useful and applicable tools, pedagogies, and resources that are relevant to the needs of my campus community. The programming at DPLAfest seemed to combine many of the topics and areas that I have been utilizing as a visual resources professional. The opportunity to dig much deeper into these resources with the mission of creating collaborations and connections with the DLF community was an ideal framework for my experience in Washington.

The first day of the fest kicked off at the Library of Congress with breakfast and coffee (!!), the debut of RightsStatements.org (VERY exciting in library-land), the release of the 100 Primary Source Sets (which I promptly emailed to my k-12 teacher friends), and the first ever selfie to be added to DPLA! For the remainder of the day I attended a workshop on geovisualization, sat in on a fantastic conversation about Authorship in the Digital Age, learned all about GIFs and how to make them (by far my favorite!), attended a totally packed, standing-room only session on copyright, and finally got to hear about the fantastic public domain drop at NYPL Labs. Somewhere in between the action, I even had the chance to pop over to the Madison building to catch up with some of my old co-workers at the Prints and Photographs Division and eat lunch in the Great Hall! After running to my hotel to catch my breath, I meandered down to the National Archives, where I had drinks and hors d’oeuvre with the Declaration of Independence and got completely lost in the exhibits (both literally and figuratively). I was so busy geeking out about how the exhibits actually looked like archives (solander boxes and everything) that I forgot to do much socializing at all!

National Archives exhibit - DPLAfest

The next morning, I headed back to the National Archives to start round two (and coincidentally ran into my cousin on the street, I guess DC is more of a small town than I thought!). Day two started with a much appreciated breakfast buffet, and a session showcasing some fabulous digital projects. Next, I learned everything I ever wanted to know about IIIF, listened in on presentations about API Development, and rounded out the whole shebang with a train ride back to my family in Virginia, all while participating in the #DPLAfest tweetstorm.

This was the first conference I have attended where I wasn’t presenting, organizing, or attending committee meetings. I felt like I could sit back, absorb the content, and tweet away to my heart’s desire. I had never had the time to live-tweet a conference, and this was my first time archiving my thoughts in 140 character chunks. I felt that the most important benefits of the conference were moments when I was able to recognize the human element behind the digital resources that I use all the time by putting a face behind a platform (specifically NYPL Labs, IIIF, DPLA Developers, etc). It is not often the case that I leave a conference wishing that it had been longer or that I could have spoken to more people, but DPLAfest exceeded many of my expectations from the start, and I am grateful to DLF for this trip.

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A monthly round-up of news, upcoming working group meetings and events, and CLIR program updates from the Digital Library Federation. See all past Digests here. 

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