Friday, June 26, 2015

A Fun Friday Find: Digital Public Library of America

Have you heard of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)? It's an ambitious project that aims to give free access to online collections in more than a thousand American libraries, archives and museums, and today it came one step closer to reaching a major goal.

The Knight and Sloan Foundations announced a $3.4 million gift to the DPLA that will help bring institutions in all 50 states on board by 2017.

I was not familiar with the DPLA but I'm glad I had a chance to check out their website, which is really a portal. There are some interesting and powerful ways to search the contents of the DPLA, including by geographic area and by timeline - even by colour!

At first I wasn't sure whether there'd be much Canadian content there, but I was pleasantly surprised. I used the map function and narrowed in on the location options to Canada, then browsed  the results I got for Washington state to see what might be there in terms of BC content. I found some cool old pictures of Pender Street (1923), and a girls' race at Brockton Point (1922), and an old-time sightseeing tour bus in Vancouver (1923). While looking for Winnipeg-related artifacts I came across this "silver dollar launching coin", a memento given to a Winnipeg-born shipbuilder upon the successful launch of a ship in San Francisco. That particular artifact was from a Smithsonian museum - which has more than a million records in the DPLA.

I encourage you to check out the DPLA and the incredible content it gives access to... kind of a fun Friday activity!

On a related note, you might be interested the announcement of the second Knight News Challenge on innovation in libraries, an international contest which will run early in 2016. Last year's contest funded 22 projects with $3 million (among them was The Internet Archive, creator of our beloved Wayback Machine). Check the winners out here or learn about them in this video:

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