The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is an ambitious project intended to make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all. The United States has no national digital library, but over forty state digital projects and numerous large content repositories currently operate in the country. With the Hubs Pilot, the DPLA will undertake the first effort to establish a national network out of these and other promising initiatives, bringing together myriad digitized content from across the country into a single access point for end users. The approach is to work with five to seven states or regions (Service Hubs) and an equal number of content providers (Content Hubs) to aggregate content on a pilot basis. Our goal is to demonstrate how we, on behalf of the American people, can make vastly more of a whole from the sum of the parts of our nation’s digitization efforts.
It would be prohibitively resource-intensive for the DPLA to harvest data from every single institution in the country. Our vision, instead, is to strengthen and connect existing state and/or regional infrastructure to create a system of Service Hubs from which aggregated data from libraries, museums and archives are harvested. Each Service Hub will offer a full menu of standardized digital services to local institutions, including digitization, metadata, data aggregation and storage services, as well as locally hosted community outreach programs bringing users in contact with digital content of local relevance. The two-year Hubs Pilot aims to help existing state programs offer these services to all institutions in their state or region. Service Hubs will serve as an on-ramp for every institution in a pilot state or region to participate in the DPLA network. We hope that this model proves successful and that it will ultimately exist in all US states or regions.
Service Hubs initially identified for the pilot are:
- Mountain West Digital Library (Utah, Nevada and Arizona)
- Digital Commonwealth (Massachusetts)
- Digital Library of Georgia
- Kentucky Digital Library
- Minnesota Digital Library
- South Carolina Digital Library
- Oregon Digital Library
In addition to Service Hubs, Content Hubs are those existing large digital libraries that will have a one-to-one relationship with the DPLA. Large digital content producers like the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Harvard, and others will work with the DPLA directly to identify and prepare their collections for aggregation by the DPLA. Content Hubs that will participate in the initial launch of the DPLA are currently being identified with anticipation of many more to follow.
The Digital Hubs Pilot Project was launched in September 2012.
DPLA Director for Content Emily Gore provided an overview of the Digital Hubs Pilot Project at the DPLA Midwest plenary on October 12, 2012 at the Chicago Public Library. In this brief video, Gore describes the project’s primary objectives, its timeline, and the initial Hub Pilot sites.