CLIR/DLF Receives Mellon Foundation Funding for Digital Public Library of America Prototype

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CLIR/DLF a $46,000 planning grant to develop a prototype for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The prototype will be submitted to the DPLA “beta sprint,” which seeks “ideas, models, prototypes, technical tools, [or] user interfaces . . . that demonstrate how the DPLA might index and provide access to a wide range of broadly distributed content.”

Rachel Frick, director of the DLF program, will manage the project and serve as co-principal investigator with Carole Palmer, professor and director of the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

Palmer will lead UIUC staff in developing the prototype, which will demonstrate how the IMLS Digital Collections and Content Registry (DCC) and its research and development activities can serve the DPLA as a critical mass of base content, as well as an aggregation model. A functional prototype will be produced in combination with a set of static wireframes and demonstrations, showing how DCC’s advances in content, metadata, user experience, and infrastructure can be leveraged for the DPLA.

Palmer and Frick will work closely with Geneva Henry, executive director of the Center for Digital Scholarship at Rice University, who will produce a report that reviews current literature pertaining to the technical aspects of large-scale collection aggregations and federations. The report will review and compare the system architectures, content types, and scale of content of the DCC, Europeana, the National Science Digital Library, and other aggregations to shed light on how and why large-scale aggregation projects succeed or fail. The report will also identify potential content providers for the DPLA, and will estimate the time, effort, and other costs required to ingest these resources into the prototype.

“This is an important strategic grant,” said CLIR President Chuck Henry. “The DPLA can and should become a fundamental asset for the nation—a genuine common good that can benefit students, researchers, and citizens at large, to grow over time to become a new and essential environment for teaching and learning. The prototype will be developed with this larger mission in mind: building a digital public library that responds to our curiosity and our myriad intellectual interests, and that reflects the complexity and power of our cultural heritage.”

“The DPLA Steering Committee is delighted that the Mellon Foundation is supporting CLIR in its work as part of the beta sprint,” said John Palfrey, chair of the DPLA’s Steering Committee. “CLIR has been a leader in thinking about and building the future of libraries. Its participation in the DPLA to date has been crucial and we look forward to seeing what they come up with as part of the beta sprint process.”

The Digital Public Library of America initiative was launched in December 2010 to explore strategies for developing an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform and empower everyone in the current and future generations.


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