Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Amazing---The Digital Public Library of America

It's hard to believe it's been two months since the announcement of the Best Websites for Teaching & Learning 2013.  As of yesterday most classrooms are filled with eager learners and teachers alike.  An excellent site to consider within the category of Curriculum Collaboration, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner, 2.1.4 Use technology and other information tools to analyze and organize information, 2.4.4 Develop directions for future investigations and 3.1.2 Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners, the American Association of School Librarians committee chose the Digital Public Library of America.  

The mission of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) 

is to make cultural and scientific works more accessible to the public.

Users are encouraged to carefully read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy before using the website.  In order to use some services such as saving searches or saving lists of items found, you will need to create an account. To sign up enter in an email address, username and password.  An email quickly appears in your inbox so you can finish the registration process.

In the upper right-hand corner of the home page for DPLA moving left to right users can open tabs for:

  • About (History, Who we are, Policies, Funding, FAQ)
  • Get Involved (Become a Partner, Events, Forums, DPLAfest 2013)
  • For Developers (API Codex)
  • Help
  • Follow (Blog, Press)
  • Contact
  • Login and 
  • Sign Up
In the FAQ section the type of information contained here is more clearly defined as:

...metadata records---information describing an item---for millions of photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States.

On and beneath the next tool bar a user can gather information by doing a keyword search (1), exhibitions or themed searches (2), map search where locations, if available, of data are shown (3) and a timeline search where if dates have been assigned to data they are presented in that type of format (4).

I decided to do a keyword search first using the term Caldecott, in honor of the 75th year celebration.  At the next screen you are given a breakdown of the search results. You can toggle between list mode (1) to map to timeline by selecting the appropriate icon.  

  On the left-hand side you can view results by format, owning institution, partners, date (day, month, year), language, and subject.  By selecting the Save button these results are sent to your account being filed under Saved Searches.  The Share button offers to post it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.  I scrolled through the results looking for an item I could use with classes during my Mock Caldecott unit.

I found the article shown in the image below.  First I clicked on the title of the article in blue.  It was hyperlinked to another screen providing basic bibliographic information.  I could Save (1) it to my Saved Items & Lists in my account or Share (2) it via the same social networks as I could the entire search list.  By choosing either the View Object or URL (3) I was then taken to the provider, collector, of the article.  In the final image of the three, more extensive information about the essay is shown.

To access the complete article select View Resource or Open resource in a new window.  Depending on the facility housing the original source, you may be offered other options.  At the BYU Harold B. Lee Library Digital Collections you can view the article in PDF, Text or do a text search (1), view it in text and PDF side by side, download it or print it out (2) and access the URL, share this on social networks, add tags, make comments and rate the article (3). 

I decided to explore a little bit more in my account.  When I went to Saved Items & Lists I discovered this article was in All Items.  I clicked on the Add New button to generate a new list giving it a title and description.

After I added a new list another option appeared.  I can now choose Add to... and put this article on the additional list I created.  Also if you click on the red words Your Saved Items, you are given even more options, Copy To..., Remove and Reorder.  

If you look closely on the left-hand side, you will see an open and closed lock by my two lists; the one is private, the other is public. To share a created list, simply copy the URL located at the top of your screen when viewing your list.  Here is the link to my saved list showing the one stored item.   Please note you have the ability to edit any created list.

The DPLA offers users the ability to create apps (see final tab at home page screen).  There are eleven created apps currently in the Apps Library.  DPLA has an application programming interface (API) which allows the open data to be used to design specific learning tools.  This is unexplored territory for me but the huge potential is exciting.

For middle, high school students, educators at all levels and the general public the Digital Public Library of America is an incredible resource.  It is a researcher's goldmine. I thank the AASL for including it on their list, for bringing it to our attention.  Follow this link to a story NPR did about this exciting resource, Combining The Nation's Digitized Libraries, All In One Place.


  1. Thank you, Margie, AASL and friends for this great recognition and pointer to the DPLA. We look forward to partnering, well into the future, to make the service extremely useful to school librarians and all their patrons.

    -John Palfrey

    1. You're welcome, John. I always look forward to the AASL Best Websites for Teaching & Learning each year. They take great pains to highlight those websites most beneficial to educators based upon specific criteria. School librarians and those they serve are indeed fortunate to have the DPLA with its continuing commitment to excellence at their disposal. Thank you for visiting the blog and taking the time to comment.