Final Day at DPLA Reveals Surprises

October 12, 2012

Change cannot happen without collaboration, and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) touted such achievements. On Friday, October 12, at its Midwest conference in Chicago, the organization honored those who have turned their concepts into reality.

With an April 2013 public launch date, DPLA is in the home stretch, said John Palfrey, the chair of the DPLA steering committee. “We are not yet set in stone; I like to think of it as wet clay,” he joked before the presentation to an estimated crowd of 300 people assembled inside the Pritzker Auditorium at the Harold Washington Library Center.

Although the DPLA must launch its active prototype within the next six months, those on the steering committee remain optimistic of the trial’s success. “Based on the impressive progress, things have never seemed more promising or more probable,” said Doron Weber, vice chair of the steering committee and vice president of programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a contributor. “This is a big, bold idea for the digital age, and we are on the verge of an historic transformation.”

Throughout the presentation other contributors took to the podium to show their appreciation for merits of the project. “The promise of libraries transforming communities has always been the focus on my presidency,” said Maureen Sullivan, president of the American Library Association (ALA).

“Our members are making sure that digital content is available for the DPLA so that the information can allow communities to collaborate as well as cooperate with one another. I have a deep belief that this will happen and ALA will be ready to be in the distribution business of the DPLA,” she said.

The session was not without its surprises. During the presentation, Jorge Martinez, director of the Knight Foundation (and previously unannounced on the schedule), made a $1 million contribution to DPLA so it can launch its first digital hubs.

“We know that the work of the DPLA can lead to a more vibrant and connected community,” Martinez said after the announcement.