That’s where the Digital Public Library of America comes in.
On April 18, 2013, the Digital Public Library of America launched a beta version of their discovery portal. The portal provides access to millions of items from archives, libraries, museums, and cultural institutions around the country. DPLA serves as a platform for digital collections from places as small as local archives to as large as the federal government’s holdings.
The aim of the DPLA is to make what’s already openly available easier to access and discover. In addition to general searches, users can explore by date, place, or exhibition. Of the 2.4 million records available, you can find letters by George Washington from the National Archives, a French Book of Hours from the University of South Carolina, or historic photographs from the Nicollet County Historical Society in Minnesota.
Having all this information in one place makes primary source research easier and more accessible. Browsing the collections can also trigger new research ideas, not limiting students to just the local archives. No need to travel to see some of the greatest collections in the country!
For now, the DPLA only includes items in the public domain; however, there is the possibility for expansion in the future. The main priority right now is to establish a platform that provides support for already digitized collections.
–Madalyn Muncy, Library Student Blogger