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Digital Public Library of America Steering Committee Announces ‘Beta Sprint’

Submissions of demos, code, and design ideas to help advance Digital Public Library of America planning initiative

Cambridge, MA — The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Steering Committee is delighted to announce today a Beta Sprint that aims to surface innovations that could play a part in the building of a digital public library.

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 submissions that suggest alternative designs or that focus on particular parts of the system, rather than on the DPLA as a whole.

The DPLA Steering Committee is leading the first concrete steps toward the realization of a large-scale digital public library that will make the cultural and scientific record available to all. The DPLA planning initiative grew out of an October 2010 meeting at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, which brought together over 40 representatives from foundations, research institutions, cultural organizations, government, and libraries to discuss best approaches to building a national digital library. Subsequent workshops in March and May have addressed the content, scope, and technical aspects of a DPLA.

“As the DPLA planning initiative moves forward, we are optimistic that the DPLA community and public can help us think about what a DPLA might look like, in practical – and perhaps unexpected – ways, as platform, architecture, interface, and beyond,” said John Palfrey, chair of the DPLA Steering Committee. “We hope geeks and librarians, especially, will join forces to develop beta submissions in support of this initiative.”

“The Beta Sprint is where the dream of a seamless and comprehensive digital library for every person begins to grapple, technically and creatively, with what has already been accomplished and what still need to be developed,” said Doron Weber, Vice President of Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a Steering Committee member. “The DPLA represents the broadest coalition of stakeholders ever assembled who are dedicated to free and universal access to knowledge for all, and the Beta Sprint will help us kick off an 18-month program to construct, brick by digital brick, this beautiful new edifice.”

For inspiration, Beta Sprint participants 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.

Submission instructions and more information are available at, where you can also watch a short video about the Beta Sprint. Statements of interest must be received by June 15, 2011. Final submissions will be due by September 1, 2011.

A review panel appointed by the Steering Committee and composed of experts in the fields of library science, information management, and computer science will review Beta Sprint submissions in early September. Creators of the most promising betas will be invited to present their ideas to interested stakeholders and community members during a public meeting in Washington, DC.

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About the Digital Public Library of America
The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) planning initiative is an impact-oriented research effort that unites leaders from all types of libraries, museums, and archives with educators, industry, and government to define the vision for a digital library in service of the American public. The DPLA Secretariat is located at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University; the Steering Committee comprises library and foundation leaders across the nation. More information can be found at

About the Berkman Center for Internet & Society
The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is a research program founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development. Founded in 1997, through a generous gift from Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman, the Center is home to an ever-growing community of faculty, fellows, staff, and affiliates working on projects that span the broad range of intersections between cyberspace, technology, and society. More information can be found at

Digital Public Library of America Steering Committee
Paul Courant, Harold T. Shapiro Professor of Public Policy and Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan
Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the Harvard University Library
Carla Hayden, Chief Executive Officer of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (Baltimore, Maryland)
Charles Henry, President of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)
Luis Herrera, City Librarian for the City and County of San Francisco
Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute for Museum and Library Services
Brewster Kahle, Founder of the Internet Archive
Michael A. Keller, Ida M. Green University Librarian, Director of Academic Information Resources at Stanford University
Carl Malamud, President, Public.Resource.Org
Deanna Marcum, Associate Librarian for Library Services at the Library of Congress
Maura Marx, Berkman Center Fellow and Executive Director, Open Knowledge Commons
Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan University Professor at the University of Virginia
John Palfrey, Faculty Co-Director at the Berkman Center; Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law and Vice Dean of Library and Information Resources at Harvard Law School
Peggy Rudd, Executive Director/State Librarian of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Amy E. Ryan, President of the Boston Public Library
Donald Waters, Program Officer for Scholarly Communications and Information Technology at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Doron Weber, Vice President, Programs at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Rebekah Heacock
Project Coordinator
Berkman Center for Internet & Society

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