Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wisconsin Joins the Digital Public Library of America

Recollection Wisconsin is now one of nearly 2,000 organizations around the country providing access to its 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 libraries, archives, historical societies and museums 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,  

According to Erika Janik, historian, author and producer of Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life,  “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. It's a chance to share what's special about Wisconsin and to give Wisconsin a voice and a place in the national story.”

Image of Roy McMillan on city water wagon, 1905
Roy McMillan on the city water wagon in 1905 (DPLA link

DPLA brings together the riches of America’s libraries, archives and museums and makes them freely available to the world. Since its launch just over three years ago, DPLA has assembled over 13 million digital resources from collections across the United States, include leading cultural and academic institutions such as the Smithsonian, the National Archives, Harvard University and the New York Public Library.

Many of the materials shared with DPLA document the histories of communities across Wisconsin, including images, oral histories and archival materials from Mount Horeb Public Library. Library director Jessica Williams has captured numerous oral histories from local veterans of WWII and the Korean War as well as one Red Cross Clubmobile volunteer. Many of these individuals have since passed on, but their stories are preserved digitally. Williams says, “Our online collections are rich and steeped in the history of our community. I am thrilled that our materials will now be discoverable via DPLA. It means so much to our community that we will provide collections of such great historical value to a broader audience. DPLA is fulfilling the very important mission of pulling together materials across a variety of platforms and formats to deliver an exciting array of information to everyone. And, all this, for 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. 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).

Official Recollection Wisconsin announcement.

Written by:
Ryan Claringbole, Public Library Development