Digital Spotlight: DPLA Fest 2017

Submitted by Andy Carter, ATLA Digital Projects Manager

On April 20-21, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) brought its annual conference to the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago’s South Loop. Several hundred librarians, archivists, and technologists enjoyed two days of presentations and lightning talks on the present and future of the DPLA.

Change was the unofficial theme of the proceedings as Dan Cohen, Executive Director of the DPLA, had announced his departure prior to the conference. The hydra-in-a-box platform adopted an official name for its product under development: Hyku. And the DPLA updated on a major technological change as it moved its aggregating workflow from OAI-PMH to ResourceSync; a move that reduced ingest times from hours to minutes. Given the centrality of the DPLA and the alignment of many institutions around DPLA standards, their technological shifts are followed closely.

But the DPLA Fest was more than just updates from the ‘mothership.’ Hundreds of institutions that contribute to the DPLA are working on their own projects and troubleshooting their own local issues. A trio of institutions from Tennessee reported on their “collaborative community partnerships” that aimed to address “social and economic justice issues through digital libraries.” The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park and the Oak Park Public Library discussed the challenges of building a collaborative digitization program from the ground up. And the University of California San Diego Library presented their effort to create a “living archive” that would seek to preserve student reactions to recent incidents targeting underrepresented students on campus. Finally, a data visualization tool for tracking and resourcing grant funding was introduced by the Foundation Center. If your institution is looking to identify new sources of funding, this new interface is worth your time.

Europeana, the European model for the DPLA, traced the development of their technologies over a decade as they provide multi-lingual service to users with more than thirty languages. And the DPLA gave an update on, an international copyright standard being co-developed by Europeana and the DPLA.

As always, there was much more than can be contained in a brief review. DPLA Fest remains a vital conference for understanding both the direction of the DPLA and its many partners. Slides for all presentations given can be accessed on

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