UW-Madison joins the Digital Public Library of America

August 8, 2016 By Natasha Veeser
Helen C. White Hall houses College Library at UW–Madison.

Helen C. White Hall houses College Library at UW–Madison. Photo: Jeff Miller

MADISON — Wisconsin’s libraries, archives and museums are joining their peers around the country in providing free online access to their digital collections through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). Some 400,000 records representing photographs, books, maps, artifacts, and other historical resources from more than 200 Wisconsin collections are now part of DPLA.

School children, genealogists and scholars will be able to find unique materials both from Wisconsin and about Wisconsin through DPLA’s website.

“It’s exciting that the unique treasures of this state, many of which may have only been known locally, are joining those from across the nation as part of DPLA,” says Erika Janik, historian, author and producer of “Wisconsin Life” on Wisconsin Public Radio. “It’s a chance to share what’s special about Wisconsin and to give Wisconsin a voice and a place in the national story.”

DPLA brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives and museums and makes them freely available to the world. Since its launch a little more than three years ago, DPLA has assembled more than 13 million digital resources from more than 1,900 institutions across the United States.

Since its founding in 2000, the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections Center has worked collaboratively with UW System faculty, staff and librarians to create and provide open access to digital resources. These resources support teaching and research needs, uniquely document the university and State of Wisconsin, and provide access to rare or fragile items.

“It’s a chance to share what’s special about Wisconsin and to give Wisconsin a voice and a place in the national story.”

Erika Janik

“Our work with Recollection Wisconsin and now DPLA are undertaken in the full spirit of the Wisconsin Idea,” says Lee Konrad, associate librarian for technology strategies and data services at UW–Madison. “The UW-Madison Libraries look forward to many years of collaboration with its Wisconsin partners and the DPLA as we provide access to our treasured digital collections.”

The UW Digital Collections are accessed more than 10 million times each year, and DPLA partners also report significant increases in traffic once their information is discovered within the DPLA. In addition to contributing its metadata to facilitate the discovery of resources, UW–Madison Libraries serve as the primary digital library technology service, aggregating metadata from statewide partners and working with DPLA to ensure the data can be made discoverable.

“The UW–Madison Libraries are privileged to work with librarians and institutions across the state to provide for discovery of our digital collections through DPLA,” says Ed Van Gemert, UW–Madison vice provost for libraries and university librarian. “Our contributions reflect both Wisconsin’s culturally rich heritage, as well as the libraries’ commitment to ensuring these materials are preserved.”

Wisconsin’s partnership with DPLA is coordinated by Recollection Wisconsin, a collaborative initiative of WiLS, Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, UW–Madison, UW-Milwaukee, Milwaukee Public Library and Marquette University. As a Service Hub, Recollection Wisconsin is the on-ramp to DPLA for the state’s cultural institutions. Funding for Recollection Wisconsin is currently provided by grants from the Nicholas Family Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which administers the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA).