Digital Public Library of America To Expand With Grant


The Knight and Sloan Foundations are making a $3.4 million investment in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which will help it expand to cover all 50 states by 2017. In addition, Knight Foundation also host the second Knight News Challenge on Libraries, an international contest focused on innovation.

These two new awards, coupled with significant earlier support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Endowment for the Humanities, will allow DPLA to open new Service Hubs that provide a way for all cultural heritage organizations across the country to connect through one national collection.

DPLA provides public access to more than 10 million items – including the written word plus works of art and culture – from 1,600 institutions.

“With these twin grants, we will be able to bring online 16 new states, and approach completion of that network,” said Dan Cohen, executive director of the Digital Public Library of America.

Service Hubs are state or regional digital collaboratives that host, aggregate or otherwise bring together digital objects from libraries, archives, museums and other cultural heritage institutions in their state or region. At the library’s launch in 2013, DPLA represented a collaborative of 16 major partners, covering nine states. The number has since doubled to more than 20 states, and is on the way to 50 in the next two years.

“We believe that democracy thrives when the public is informed. Libraries are really the last institutions in the community that are open to all,” Jorge Martinez, of the Knight Foundation told CivSource.

These new grants will accelerate the growth of the hubs program so that all collections and item types in America can easily be a part of DPLA. The Sloan Foundation’s $1.9 million award will build on its continued support since DPLA’s launch to establish Service Hubs in eight uncovered states and to further explore how it might address e-books in the collection. The Knight Foundation’s $1.5 million award will facilitate the expansion of the DPLA’s hub network in another eight states where Knight Foundation invests.

“If you look at the evolution of libraries they have historically been brick and mortar institutions, but have evolved significantly and are now providing services like digital access, and skills workshops. We want to support the development and improvement of those services,” Martinez added.