This spring, Hannah Stitzlein, a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) at UW-Madison, is working on an independent study project with Recollection Wisconsin to evaluate metadata in preparation for our participation in the Digital Public Library of America. Hannah is a distance student living in Ohio. In April, she headed to Indianapolis to take part in DPLAFest, a two-day conference/celebration of all things DPLA.

From DPLA via Flickr.

Photo courtesy DPLA, via Flickr.

On April 17-18 I attended DPLAFest 2015 at the Indianapolis Public Library, the Indiana Historical Society, and the Indiana State Library. Speakers at the event included founding members of DPLA as well as state Service Hub contributors, legal experts and digital librarians. These speakers discussed topics such as ebooks, education, digitization, and copyright.

On the first day of the conference there was a round of lightning sessions where several Service Hubs and Content Hubs spoke on their specific experiences with DPLA. Carla Urban from the Minnesota Digital Library spoke on her work with the Public Library Partnership Project in order to get more public libraries involved in DPLA. Chris Stanton, of New York’s Empire State Digital Network, discussed the Culture In Transit project, which brings mobile digitization services to libraries in New York City that don’t have digitization equipment and expertise. Sandra McIntyre, of Mountain West Digital Library, discussed her hub’s challenges with geospatial metadata and how they have addressed the multitude of ways their contributors added this data to records. These were among the many different hubs that spoke over the weekend, which celebrated the differences and challenges that each hub has come up against.

Another aspect that I focused on at DPLAFest is how hubs and institutions have managed rights issues for the records that are being added to DPLA. The area of copyright can be one that causes many individuals and institutions some trepidation, and I wanted to learn what has been done to both calm these fears, as well as what areas should be of highest/least concern. One aspect of rights that Amy Rudersdorf (of DPLA) and Heather Gilbert (of South Carolina Digital Library) discussed is releasing metadata records to the public domain through the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) dedication. They admitted that this can sound like a potentially scary maneuver but that ultimately, metadata is a recording of facts and is functionally no different than a MARC record.

One thing that became apparent over the course of the conference is how unique each Service Hub is within DPLA. For instance, Recollection Wisconsin functions as an aggregator of many libraries’ records in Wisconsin and is an organization already in place. This means that a lot of the groundwork is already laid for Wisconsin’s ability to provide records to DPLA. Other states, such as Ohio, currently don’t have such an organization to serve in this way, and so will need to develop a different system before they are able to participate in DPLA. Some states have large amounts of records that are accessible through DPLA, and other states have smaller amounts–this can also make a difference when joining DPLA. Some states have records that originate primarily from public libraries, while other states have records predominantly coming from academic institutions and historical societies. So it should come as no surprise that each state is just as varied in its participation with DPLA as they are in their ecological and geological diversity.

Since I am still learning about DPLA and how it functions as an organism, much of this conference was new to me. Many aspects were, admittedly, well over my head, but it was an enriching experience that made me excited to be a part of Wisconsin’s preparation to join DPLA.

–Posted by Hannah Stitzlein.

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