Beta Sprint

September 29, 2011: Thanks to all those who participated in the DPLA Beta Sprint! Information about the Beta Sprint review process and full results are available for download as a PDF.

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Steering Committee seeks innovations from individuals, libraries, organizations, and others that could play a part in the building of a digital public library. Steering Committee Chair John Palfrey presents the DPLA Beta Sprint in the following short video:

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The Beta Sprint seeks ideas, models, prototypes, technical tools, user interfaces, etc.—put forth as a written statement, a visual display, code, or a combination of forms—that demonstrate how the DPLA might index and provide access to a wide range of broadly distributed content. The Beta Sprint also encourages development of betas that suggest alternative designs or that focus on particular parts of the system, rather than on the DPLA as a whole.

While submissions should be consonant with the description of the DPLA that is set forth in the four-page Concept Note posted on the DPLA wiki, the notion is not that we expect anything to be “done,” but rather that submissions be expressive of a direction in which we might take the DPLA.

For inspiration, one might consider the general approach taken by initiatives whose leaders are on the DPLA Steering Committee, such as the Internet Archive, Public.Resource.Org, the Hathi Trust, American Memory, and others, as well as the Europeana project and the national digital libraries in the Netherlands, Norway, and South Korea. Any number of approaches to building a DPLA, from a series of common protocols to a fully blown, centralized system, is possible to explore.

We encourage participants to work with a library or another holder of rights in content to demonstrate the effectiveness of a particular approach to building out a DPLA. We encourage participants to engage the public in their development processes as well, to the extent that they are comfortable doing so.

The Review Process

An independent review panel appointed by the DPLA Steering Committee and composed of experts in the fields of library science, information management, and computer science will undertake an initial review of the betas submitted and make recommendations to the Steering Committee. Based on these recommendations, the Steering Committee will invite creators of the most promising betas to present their ideas to interested stakeholders and community members during a public meeting in Washington, DC.

Participants will be notified of the results of the review in or around late September or early October 2011.


We welcome participation broadly from individuals, libraries, organizations, and/or others with ideas for how to build a technical architecture that will help make the cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, to all. Participants must be 18 years of age or older.

Submission of Statements of Interest

Participants must submit a short (400 words maximum) statement of interest by June 15, 2011. This statement must include the names of the participants, the basic idea behind the beta that is being developed, and any key partners who are assisting with the project. In this statement, the participants must expressly agree to the intellectual property provisions of the Beta Sprint, which are described in the Intellectual Property Policy. Participants will not be held to anything that is included in this statement of interest (except their agreement to abide by the Intellectual Property Policy) down the line.

The deadline for statements of interest was 11:59PM ET on June 15, 2011.

Submission of Betas for Review

Submissions should consist of a URL leading to your beta—which may take the form of pure code, a fully functional prototype, a PDF, a slide deck, a video, a website containing a combination of these forms, or something else—accompanied by the completed Submission Form. The primary audience for your submission will be an independent review panel appointed by the DPLA Steering Committee and composed of experts in the fields of library science, information management, and computer science. Submissions will be given to all review panel members for review. Submissions that are selected for presentation at the public meeting will be posted publicly following consultation with their creators.

To have your submission included in the review, please submit it using the DPLA Beta Sprint Submission Form.

The deadline for submission is 11:59PM ET on September 1, 2011.

Note: You must have submitted a Statement of Interest by June 15, 2011 in order to submit a beta.

Contact Information

Should we have any questions or need to follow up with you about your beta submission, we will contact you. Should you have any questions for us, please contact us at We apologize in advance that we may not be able to respond to all inquiries.

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