Cultural, historical, and educational institutions throughout South and Central Florida can now share their digitized holdings with people across the United States and around the world.
Librarians and digital strategists at FIU, the University of Miami (UM) and Florida State University (FSU) have partnered to create the Sunshine State Digital Network (SSDN), which serves as the state’s administrative and infrastructure portal to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).
The Boston-based DPLA is a public, open-source platform that connects users to digitized art works, artifacts, archival documents and other materials from organizations ranging from modest community historical societies to massive cultural institutions. Assets contributed by Florida organizations to DPLA are displayed in search results alongside those from many other collections, fostering learning, research, tourism, business and other endeavors.
“DPLA and SSDN offer a tremendous opportunity to share the depth and richness of our state’s digital collections,” said Anne Prestamo, dean of Libraries at FIU. “We look forward to advising and assisting libraries, museums and archives throughout South and Central Florida to fully leverage that potential.”
The shared network roles of FIU and UM will be to help South and Central Florida organizations make sure that the metadata—information such as title, description and copyright status—of each item in their collections conforms to DPLA standards. FIU and UM then transmit the optimized digital files to the SSDN hub at FSU, which gathers and prepares the files for quarterly “harvesting,” or uploading, by the DPLA.
FIU and UM also collaborate with the SSDN on efforts to facilitate and expand the representation of Florida institutions in the rapidly growing national research resource.
“Through SSDN, we are making it possible for archives, libraries, museums and other collectors across the state to publish their unique holdings on a global platform,” said Charles Eckman, dean of UM Libraries and University Librarian. “It’s all about fostering discovery and innovation through enhanced access, which is central to our mission and vision.”
Since FIU and UM have already uploaded a significant portion of their own digital collections to DPLA, the two universities are now prioritizing efforts to grow the number of Florida organizations participating in the initiative. A November series of introductory SSDN workshops attracted representatives from more than 30 public libraries, museums, academic libraries, library cooperatives and other cultural heritage institutions.
“The community at large benefits from this increased ability to engage with cultural and historical content across multiple institutions,” noted Jamie Rogers, director of FIU’s Digital Collection Center. “The technologies and tools developed can be leveraged for patrons to use and engagement with content in new and exciting ways.”
In addition to outreach and orientation, metadata experts at FIU Libraries and UM Libraries provide interested organizations with hands-on assistance as needed. Initial development of the universities’ SSDN planning, training and metadata evaluation procedures was supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation.