Closer Readings Commentary

What’s New at The Digital Public Library of America

I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue and advancing the happiness of man. --Thomas Jefferson (quoted by New York Public Library President Anthony Marx to commemorate DPLA’s launch)                   

DPLAfest 2016

You’re invited to join us at DPLAfest 2016 this week. On Thursday April 14, and Friday April 15, a large and growing community will gather the heart of Washington, D.C., for interactive workshops, hackathons and other collaborative activities, engaging discussions with community leaders and practitioners, fun events, and more. 

The DPLAfest 2016 sessions will appeal to educators interested in libraries; technology; eBooks; creative reuse of cultural materials; law; open access; and genealogy/family research.

Area institutions serving as co-hosts include the National Archives and Records Administration, the Library of Congress, and the Smithsonian Institution.

Registration is required to attend DPLAfest 2016; there will not be onsite registration. For logistical information, visit the logistics page

EDSITEment staff will be presenting this year as well, on Thursday at 10:45. Check out the summary of our presentation. We can’t wait to see you in D.C. —and if you can’t make it, you can still join the conversation online by using #DPLAfest and DPLA will offer recordings of selected sessions, available after the Fest! 

What’s DPLA?

If you haven’t had a chance to tap into it yet, The Digital Public Library of America is a free online library that marks its three-year anniversary this week. Funded in part by NEH, DPLA continues to provide access to books, photographs, maps, audiovisual materials, and more from libraries, archives, and museums all across the United States. 

DPLA’s growing repository includes millions of items from more than U.S. based partners. It is a one-stop shop where teachers and students can easily find primary sources and other materials from a wide range of institutions, from small historical societies to large national archives. All items have been curated and vetted by cultural heritage professionals. No registration or subscription is required. 

DPLA aims to expand the realm of openly available materials and make these riches more easily discovered and more widely usable as a portal for discovery; a platform opening our cultural heritage; an advocate for a strong public option to access materials in the twenty-first century. 

Find the answers to FAQs and learn more about the Digital Public Library of America for Educators.   

Become a Community Rep 

The DPLA Community Reps program recruits representatives from the public to work with DPLA in their local communities. These reps use the project with classes of students and share it with colleagues, and then provide the organization with use cases and feedback. This supports DPLA’s plans to develop future education partnerships and design new education resources. 

In 2016 DPLA welcomes their fourth class of Community Reps. These newest reps come from K-12 schools, public libraries, state libraries, municipal archives, public history and museums, technology, genealogy, education technology, and many areas of higher education. This round consists of a very strong cohort of educators from diverse disciplines including psychology, social work, art history, and studio art.

For more detailed information about the Community Reps and their plans, visit DPLA’s Meet the Reps page. 

The call for DPLA's fifth class of Community Reps will take place early next year (January 2017).  To learn more about this program and follow the future calls for applicants, check out the Community Reps page. 

Curation Corps 

Two weeks ago, DPLA joined The New York Public Library, First Book, and Baker & Taylor in announcing the launch of Open eBooks, an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for children from low-income households. The goal of Open eBooks is to encourage a love of reading and serve as a gateway to children reading even more often, whether in school, at libraries, or through other eBook reading apps. 

What was DPLA’s role in all of this? DPLA tapped into a national network of librarians and cultural heritage organizations who helped to coordinate books for inclusion in Open eBooks. 

This DPLA Curation Corps applied their knowledge and professional skills to shape a compelling collection of eBooks that is diverse, exciting, and age-appropriate. Curation Corps member Vandy Pancetti-Donelson serves because, “this library is always open and I want to make sure our children have good books to choose. There is a book for every reader.” 

To learn more about the members of the Curation Corps, visit the Curation Corps homepage

Primary Source Sets for the Classroom  

DPLA has just released a second group of unique Primary Source Sets covering a wide array of humanities topics that range from Exploration of the Americas to The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien, along with new features for navigating this growing project. 

These sets were developed and reviewed by DPLA’s Education Advisory Committee for use by students and teachers in grades 6-12 and higher education. They help develop critical thinking skills by exploring signature topics of our nation’s history, literature, and culture through the lens of primary sources of a particular era. Drawing online materials from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States, these Primary Source Sets include letters, photographs, posters, oral histories, video clips, sheet music, and more. Each set also offers a topical overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. 

DPLA will continue adding new sets and new features to the project through this spring.

To learn more about DPLA’s education work, read about education projects, sign up for the education news list, or contact