More on the Digital Public Library of America

Over at The Atlantic, Rebecca Rosen interviews Dan Cohen, the new director of the Digital Public Library of America. (You may recall our recent post on the opening of the DPLA).

Here is a taste of the interview:

What is the Digital Public Library of America? What do you hope it will become? 

The idea behind the Digital Public Library of America is fairly simple actually — it is the attempt, really a large-scale attempt, to knit together America’s archives, libraries, and museums, which have a tremendous amount of content — all forms of human expression, from images and photographs, to artwork, to published material and unpublished material, like archival and special collections. We want to bring that all together in one place.

One big part of the DPLA will be its brand-new website, DP.LA — a nice, short URL. It works great on mobile phones too. It’s a modern, responsive website.

But also, by bringing them together, I think we’re also in a sense making those collections much more usable. When people come to the website, first of all, they’ll be able to find a lot of content that exists out in smaller archives and collections much more easily. They won’t have to go to hundreds or thousands of websites to find this amazing, unique scanned content from America’s heritage and, indeed, from the world’s — because we have people from all over the world here, and archival content from all over the world.

So there will be a real element of discovery — both directed discovery and also coming across new things through serendipity, things you might not encounter otherwise.

There will also be very innovative ways to search and scan across these collections. For the first time users will be able to actually browse an archive’s collections using a map. We’re using Open Street Map and people will be able to zoom into particular localities and see what any collection might have about that particular locality — whether it’s a big collection like the Smithsonian or the National Archives or a very small county historical society. 

Read the rest here.

I spent some time at the DPLA and found it to be very user friendly.  I found some documents from the New York Public Library collection that I did not know existed, although the link to the images kept taking me to a library web page about the collection, rather than the actual scanned image of the document.  I also found some really cool images that might be useful for the Greenwich Tea Burning project

I know I will be spending a lot of time at the DPLA in the future.  The option to save items and searches will be particularly useful once I start to dig more deeply into the collections.