Getting Inside DPLA

October 12, 2012

There are two sides to every business: what the public sees and what happens on the inside. On Friday, October 12, Jeffrey Licht, a partner at Pod Consulting and a part of the Digital Public Library of America’s (DPLA) technical development team, laid out the details of what exactly makes the digital library run and what they hope to do before the April 2013 launch.

Licht was a key speaker on the second day of DPLA’s Midwest conference held at the Harold Washington Library Center in Chicago. The two-day event was created to lay the groundwork for DPLA’s public launch.

The heart of DPLA’s database is the application program interface (API), the “mechanism by which we will expose DPLA to the world,” Licht said. By not restricting the API, everyone will have the same level of access, allowing a wealth of data to come into the depository.

“We will know we are doing things right if people want to build on the API,” he said. According to Licht, the interface is packaged in such a way that anyone can take the platform and run it locally.

On one aspect he wanted to be perfectly clear: DPLA will be a metadata repository, not a content repository. The key difference: The API will provide information about the content rather than the content itself. Metadata will be categorized into various items, collections, and events. 

Another addition to the interface will be the ability to access complete versions of the metadata in its original format. “Ideally we would like to have the complete metadata be indexed and easily searchable,” he said.

With April 2013 right around the corner, Licht knows a lot has yet to be done before the site can go public. “We want as many people to be involved as possible so we can make sure we know what we are doing. Getting to the launch will be a messy, iterative process, but we are looking forward to the end results,” he said.