Beta Sprint Sneak Peek

Last Thursday marked the close of the Digital Public Library of America Beta Sprint, an open call for code and concepts defining how the DPLA should operate. By the 11:59pm deadline, we had received nearly 40 final submissions ranging widely from digital storytelling projects to complex text annotation systems to new ways of searching library collections. The Beta Sprinters are a diverse group of non-profits, media organizations, academic and public librarians, students, government agencies, and interested individuals throughout the United States (along with a few participants from even further afield).

The Beta Sprint Review Panel will meet in mid-September to evaluate the submissions, but in the meantime, some of the sprinters have offered sneak peeks at their projects:

  • Digital Collaboration for America’s National Collections: National Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Library of Congress
    “For the purpose of the DPLA Beta Sprint, staff from the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, and the National Archives modeled a faceted search aggregator using the Smithsonian’s Enterprise Digital Asset Network (EDAN) as a starting point. As part of this proof of concept, a selection of records, with associated digital assets were drawn from the collections of the Library of Congress and the National Archives. Only a small set from the Library of Congress and National Archives were selected to test data mapping.”
  • Digital Inversion Theory: Principles for the Cooperative Organizing of Online Book Collections (PDF)
    “With the relatively recent advent of the possibility for publishing texts online, librarians are potentially at another epochal time when basic theoretical frameworks for cooperative professional practice are due for re-examination and possible wholesale changes. This DPLA Beta Sprint submission provides a theoretical framework, digital inversion theory, for underpinning the planning of cooperative organizing practices for the existing network of librarians for the era of dynamic online texts.”
  • A Digital Public Library of America and the Transformation of the Humanities
    “We focus in particular on how a Digital Public Library of America can provide a space in which 10,000 public libraries, 100,000 K-12 and 3,000 academic libraries interact in real time, with each institution contributing to this new space and at the same time better serving its traditional constituents.”
  • DLF/DCC: DPLA Beta Sprint
    “Collections and institutions both provide valuable organizational and intellectual context that users need for interpretation and use of digital materials and navigation through large bodies of distributed content. Our project will look at ways aggregation services can create context and help with content recruitment for the DPLA.”
  • Federated Repositories and Providers
    “The goal of this beta sprint was to consider the relationships between potential stakeholders and participants in the DPLA, and explore ways they might work together to build a sustainable model that facilitates long-term preservation of materials in addition to access.”
  • icfind
    “I’m working on a prototype image collection finder, icfind. icfind is a tool to find collections of images from public libraries. Then, map the collections so you can see which images are from places near you.”
  • Image-Based Information Interoperability—Transcending a World of Silos
    “Participants in the Digital Medieval Manuscript Interoperability Project, funded by the the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, have proposed and built an interoperable environment for digital manuscripts that separates repositories of images and metadata from the tools and applications used to access them, with the net effect of providing scholars with an open environment in which they can discover, view and manipulate these resources using their tool of choice.”
  • Index Data: Digital Public Library of America
    “In order to provide a taste of how our technologies can be used, we have put together a simple interface which allows a user to search across several examples of the kinds of information sources that we discuss [here]…. Our interface employs a variety of methods to bring these resources together, including harvesting and indexing as well as broadcast searching using standard protocols, and public or proprietary APIs.”
  • mB3ok
    “We developed a new organization of knowledge for public libraries which is mobile, digital, and physical. It serves the public in the modern day.”
  • Metadata Interoperability Services (MINT)
    “MINT services compose a web based platform that was designed and developed to facilitate aggregation initiatives for cultural heritage content and metadata in Europe.”
  • Preparing for the Digital Public Library
    “Essential Strategies proposes to make use of the enterprise conceptual data models contained in David C. Hay’s book, Enterprise Model Patterns: Describing the World, to create conceptual data models to support the DPLA’s efforts to automate a digital public library. The models fall into two categories:

    • A model of Information Resource, the artifacts managed by a typical library.
    • A model of ‘the world’ that provides a basis for organizing the concepts described by or referred to by each Information Resource.”
  • Use & Understand
    “We are sure the DPLA will implement the services of find & get very well. To supplement, enhance, and distinguish the DPLA from other digital libraries, we propose the implementation of ‘services against text’ in an effort to support use & understand.”

About Rebekah Heacock Jones

Rebekah Heacock Jones is a Senior Project Manager at the Berkman Center, where she focuses on Internet health, Internet governance, and access to information.
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5 Responses to Beta Sprint Sneak Peek

  1. Brian Tingle says:

    The DPLA Vertical Search Demo developed by the California Digital Library investigates the viability of using web crawler technology to provide a single point of access to distributed collections hosted by digital libraries and other repositories. A vertical search engine provides focused and precision searching on a curated group of resources. We believe a vertical search of collections could provide a technical architecture, as well as a useful access layer, for the Digital Public Library of America.

  2. The ShelfLife Collaborative, a partnership of 14 research and public libraries, has posted a link to working prototypes of its two beta sprint submissions: (1) ShelfLife: a friendly way to browse DPLA’s distributed collections, enabling users to find what they want, discover what’s there, and share socially what they’ve learned and enjoyed; (2) LibraryCloud: a metadata server that makes library metadata openly available via APIs and as Linked Open Data. We encourage you to start by taking the tour, and then poking around as you’d like. Have fun!

  3. Kevin Moses says:

    And here is another submission to the DPLA Beta Sprint: Raconteur

    The story so far is putting in appearances at:

    The objective of the project is to create access to a means of long term digital archiving of user/visitor stories, primarily autobiography and biography. The project plays on the following construction: a [digital] library by the people for the people. The proposed system is a digital archival system accessible by a web based user interface to anyone (e.g., US based public library visitor, non US based internet visitor, …) who wishes to put down a record in either audio or video format of their lives, the lives of others or any event of their choosing. This construction is sourced in encounters with storytellers, e.g., I wanted to tell of this, I wanted another to carry this story into the future, and I wanted another to know. In particular, the encounter (of the Archive) is with a storyteller wanting to put down a record.

    A user of the website would have access to create their own archive (account) of their entries delivered to the Archive in audio and/or video format. The user would have unlimited opportunities to return to their archive to make entries. This resonates with unlimited diary entries with the user is aware that their entries are being archived in an account dedicated to them, which account is publicly available. The user’s account will be the subject of long-term preservation incorporating the aspects of changing technologies and changing user communities. The focus is on digital information (audio or video) as the form of information held. The model does not at the present time accommodate non-digital information but does envisage the availability of imaging technologies to render a non-digital image, digital.

    All the best,

  4. Nate Hill says:


    Our Beta Sprint proposal offers two pieces for your consideration. First, we present the design concept for a Library Lab, a unique way of creating a footprint for the digital library in the physical world. Second, we’ve assembled a prototypical Library Lab that is operating in the Washington DC Public Library’s main facility, the Martin Luther King Jr. Library this fall.

    Library Lab design and concept site
    Library Lab DC wiki

    The design concept was realized by Chris Noll, Jason Barish, and Abraham Jayson at Noll & Tam with Matthew Williams and Nate Hill. The design team focused on creating a vision of the infrastructure for the input of physical, audio, and visual information into the digital realm, and for the transfer of that digital information back into physical form of various sorts. We have conceived of a number of modules that will serve to support or contain the equipment needed for the transfer of the digital information. These modules are built with a flexible system of components that can be designed digitally, transmitted to any location, and fabricated using simple tools and methodologies. The size of the forms allows them to be fabricated from readily available standard materials such as plywood, MDF, plastics, metal, or composite materials. Our intent is that the design and fabrication techniques will be easily adaptable to individual needs, and that the processes will be open source and part of the creative commons. The Library Lab is extensible and can easily be configured and assembled to suit the needs of an urban museum with a large space and budget or a small, rural library with only a limited space and a very specific use case.

    The Wiki Society of Washington DC is running the demonstration library lab at the Martin Luther King Jr. DC Public Library from September until the end of December. The lab is a “hackspace for knowledge”, inviting people to the space to collaborate on projects, run workshops, and involve students. Over the course of the months that the DC LibLab is operating, we’ll be doing hands-on work gathering data and testing the principles as described in the design concept. This data will provide a feedback loop that informs the design iterations and provides hooks for individuals and institutions to extend and customize the modules and components to their own use cases. We invite you to continue to explore our proposal over time as the interactions and architecture evolve in Washington DC.

  5. Pingback: Digital libraries vs. our national dumb-down: Could ‘civic dashboards’ and other innovations help America break out of an endless loop? | LibraryCity

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