Seven pilot sites join national digital library project with Knight Foundation funding

Project will engage communities in local history

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (Oct. 12, 2012) – The Digital Public Library of America-a groundbreaking project that will make content in our nation’s archives and special collections digital, searchable and freely available-will launch pilot projects in seven states with $1 million in funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

State libraries and regional digital library collaboratives in Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, South Carolina and Utah will be the first to participate as “service” hubs in the pilot effort.

Users will ultimately be able to search across these local collections, finding information on a topic-like the Civil War or the Great Depression-via records from throughout the country. Organizers will also test ways to engage communities in creating content for the archives, whether through adding context and tags to digital records, or bringing in items to scan and record.

“Libraries and archives contain vast repositories of their community’s everyday history, a rich past with local and national resonance. Digitizing, categorizing and sharing these cultural assets electronically helps libraries in their evolution from information storehouses into dynamic hubs using history to create content and engage the community,” said George Martinez, director of information technology at Knight Foundation.

The funding is part of Knight Foundation’s Library Initiative, which helps  libraries achieve their mission of being places for personal fulfillment, content creation and community engagement.

“Libraries-both digital and brick-and-mortar-play an important role in our communities’ civic and cultural life,” said Maura Marx, Director of the Digital Public Library of America’s Secretariat. “Knight’s support will allow public  libraries working through the hubs to engage with their communities on local history and related social issues. The grant will support digitization of library collections of local relevance, as well as public events that will contextualize and examine digital history through a contemporary lens.”

The seven pilot sites will provide direct services at the regional and local level, digitizing thousands of items at each hub location, sending trainers to teach staff how to categorize the digitized materials and providing virtual storage space.

The Digital Public Library of America is scheduled to launch a prototype in April 2013 that will make hundreds of thousands of digital items freely available to the public.

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit

About the Digital Public Library of America

The Digital Public Library of America planning initiative is taking 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. This impact-oriented research effort 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. More information can be found at

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