Getting to Know the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA, http://dp.la) is a virtual library that makes  photographic and other resources available from libraries across the United States. It organizes these resources into themed exhibitions (such as Women with Wings: American Aviatrixes), a map and a timeline.

Content comes into the DPLA from a variety of libraries, museums, archives and other cultural institutions. Many of the resources are old photographs or scans of letters that are not subject to copyright.

A simple search box allows you to search for resources by keywords. You can filter your search results by the format, date, location or even the institution that contributed the resource to the DPLA.

The DPLA’s exhibitions are curated collections of a few pictures that illustrate the topic. One such exhibition, Activism in the US, has eight different themes that cover the Civil Rights Movement, antiwar activism, women’s activism and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) activism. Along with the pictures are descriptions that place the pictures in a historical moment and give the exhibitions the feel of browsing artifacts in a museum.

So, whether you’re having fun or doing serious research, spend some time with the Digital Public Library of America!

“Miss Lillian Boyer, aerial acrobat,” on the wing of an airplane, 1922. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

“Miss Lillian Boyer, aerial acrobat,” on the wing of an airplane, 1922. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

 

 

About Stephen Brooks

Stephen is a reference librarian at Durham Tech. He has blogged previously at acqweb.org and for American Libraries magazine online. He enjoys reading 20th and 21st century literature, biographies and books about sports.