Later today I’m giving an update at the LITA Forum on our work at the Digital Public Library of America. (It will be streamed here.) I also wanted to share the outline of my talk here. I’ll be talking about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re headed. I’m going to focus on the latter two here.
We’ve been focused on three things this year:
- Supporting and growing our core national network of state-based hubs. We gathered for our first Members Meeting, initiated five working groups and, perhaps most importantly, began to develop processes to ensure that the tools and processes we create are conceived of and built collaboratively.
- Launching DPLA Exchange, an open ebooks marketplace. As knowledge becomes increasingly digital, we think it’s vital that libraries have a voice in the design of the new platforms and the policies that will guide them.
- Ensuring that we have funding for 2019 and beyond. We’ve focused on three things: working with our existing foundation supporters who have supported us at launch and since; growing earned-revenue streams, through things like our network membership program and ebooks sales, and building relationships with new funders with whom we have not previously engaged — or who have not worked with libraries in the past.
In 2019 we will grow all three of these areas:
- Ensuring that our nation’s cultural heritage is fully accessible digitally by growing, supporting and working with our network. We will expand on what we’ve begun to more fully involve our network in collaboratively designing tools and approaches to make the digital cultural resources of our more than 3,000 place-based partners. We also will explore ways to better raise funds together.
- Providing libraries and their users with ebook options that prioritize their needs over those of commercial platforms. We will do this by expanding on the progress we have made with the DPLA Exchange through partnerships with LYRASIS, NYPL and others.
- Helping the field to thrive in the digital age. Among other things, this will include events like DPLAfest (which opened for registration last week), webinars and conference presentations (including upcoming staff talks at NCTE and MCN, as well as at SXSWedu and at ALA Midwinter, where we plan to walk through a new strategic plan that sets us up to continue to build on the success of our first five years.)
Our task in coming weeks will be to develop the blueprints of that work, build the structure we need, and align those aims with our resources to ensure the long term success of DPLA in 2019 and beyond. This has meant making hard choices.
We were founded in part to help make knowledge and culture available to anyone anywhere, on whatever screen they’re using. And we’ve made, and will continue to make, that a reality. Our digital world is young — we’re still learning what it means to produce, share and process knowledge in bits; new tools and approaches emerge constantly. We see a need, and an opportunity, now and in the future to be part of that process of discovery.
If you’ve been part of that project with us, I hope you will continue to be — everything we do is through collaboration. If you have not, I hope you will join us as we go forward.