Library of Congress, Digital Public Library of America To Form New Collaboration

This undoubtedly will affect many genealogists as more and more records are added to the Digital Public Library’s database of digital content records. Making such records available online results in much easier access for all than the present methods. The following announcement was written by the Library of Congress:

library_of_congress_logoThe Library of Congress today signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Digital Public Library of America to become a “content hub partner” and will ultimately share a significant portion of its rich digital resources with DPLA’s database of digital content records.

The first batch of records will include 5,000 items from three major Library of Congress maps collections—the Revolutionary War (loc.gov/collections/american-revolutionary-war-maps/about-this-collection/), Civil War (loc.gov/collections/civil-war-maps/about-this-collection/) and panoramic maps collections (loc.gov/collections/panoramic-maps/about-this-collection/).

“We are pleased to make the Digital Public Library of America a new door through which the public can access the digital riches of the Library of Congress,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “We will be sharing some beautiful, one-of-a-kind historic maps that I think people will really love. They are available online and I hope even more people discover them through DPLA.”

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to collaborate closely with the Library of Congress, to work with them on the important mission of maximizing access to our nation’s shared cultural heritage,” said DPLA’s Executive Director Dan Cohen, “and we deeply appreciate not only the Library’s incredible collections, but also the great efforts of the Librarian and her staff.”

The Digital Public Library of America is a portal—effectively, a searchable catalog—that aggregates existing digitized content from major sources such as libraries, archives, museums and cultural institutions. It provides users with links back to the original content-provider site where the material can be viewed, read or, in some cases, downloaded.

The Digital Public Library of America, the product of a widely shared vision of a national digital library dating back to the 1990s, was launched with a planning process bringing together 40 leaders from libraries, foundations, academia and technology projects in October, 2010 followed by an intense community planning effort that culminated in 2013. Its aim was to supersede the silo effect many digitization efforts were subject to. Based in Boston, the board of directors includes leading public and research librarians, technologists, intellectual property scholars, and business experts from across the nation. Its goal is to create “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 current and future ­generations.”

The Library of Congress expects to add a significant portion of its digital items to the original trio of collections over time, covering other collections such as photos, maps and sheet music.

Library of Congress items already appear in the DPLA database. Earlier in this decade, the Library digitized more than 100,000 books in its collections as part of its membership in the Hathi Trust and the Biodiversity Heritage Library, both current partners with the DPLA. As a result, those books are already in the DPLA’s collections through those partners.

The Digital Public Library of America strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. Since launching in April 2013, it has aggregated more than 14 million items from more than 2,000 institutions. The DPLA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on site and online. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov, and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

My thanks to newsletter reader Ernie Thode for telling me about this announcement.

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