Frequently Asked Questions

What is the DPLA?

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) aggregates metadata -- or information describing a digitized or born-digital item -- and thumbnails for millions of cultural heritage materials maintained by libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. It draws on a national network of the over forty state/regional digital libraries and myriad large digital libraries, bringing together content from across the country into a single access point for end users, and an open platform for developers. More about the DPLA...

What is the Mountain West Digital Library?

The Mountain West Digital Library is a central search portal for digital collections about the Mountain West region. MWDL provides free access to over 900,000 resources from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, historical societies, and government agencies, counties, and municipalities in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Montana, Hawaii, and other parts of the U.S. West. More about MWDL...

A brief introduction to MWDL featuring our partners and staff

What institutions currently have content in MWDL?

MWDL succeeds because of the collaboration of over 170 partners in the Mountain West. See a complete list of partners contributing to the Mountain West Digital Library...

What other institutions are represented in DPLA?

You're in good company when your metadata records are shared with DPLA. Over 1,400 institutions (and growing!) currently share their records with DPLA including the Smithsonian, the New York Public Library, the Harvard Library, the California Digital Library, and many more.

What is a DPLA Service Hub?

DPLA is using a distributed model for its national network that is designed to engage both large and small institutions having digitized and born-digital content, and to provide an open platform for developers of services and tools for digital resources. Key to DPLA's success is the Service Hubs model, which provides an onramp for smaller institutions to participate in DPLA through a regional collaboration. MWDL is the service hub for the Mountain West part of the United States and the onramp for institutions, big and small, to participate with DPLA in UT, NV, AZ, ID, and MT. Learn more about the DPLA Hubs model...

What exactly is shared with DPLA?

MWDL shares metadata records for our partner's content with DPLA. By "metadata," we mean the textual information our partners have provided for their digitized and born-digital items, such as descriptive and rights-related information. Metadata includes information that enables users to identify, discover, interpret, or manage content, such as the name of the author of the work, the date on which it was first created or published, and the copyright status of the work. The same metadata that we display for your content in Calisphere will be the same metadata that will be shared with DPLA. In addition to the metadata records, DPLA will also provide users with a small thumbnail image for items. Just as with MWDL, the metadata will be openly available and searchable in DPLA, with the addition of a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) assigned to it.

What can my institution expect once our metadata records are available through DPLA?

The DPLA portal is becoming a go-to source of information for people all over the world who are interested in the cultural heritage of the United States. By exposing metadata records for your content in MWDL through DPLA, we will help your institution find a much larger audience for your collections. Once your metadata records are available through DPLA, your collections will be searchable in innovative ways such as by timeline, map, virtual bookshelf, format, and subject. Your institution's name will appear as the source of the metadata record. In addition, DPLA provides an Application Programming Interface (API), with access to the data itself that will allow you and others to create novel environments for learning, tools for discovery and use, and apps for your institution and for your users.

What will my institution's users see when they view our metadata records in DPLA?

When viewing a metadata record for one of your institution's items in DPLA, users will see the same metadata that we display in MWDL – but the metadata will be presented with DPLA's labels. Users will also see a small thumbnail image for the item. In the screenshot below from a typical search result, note the Contributing Institution label. Your institution's name would display here, as the source of the original metadata record. The URL label will include a link to the metadata record in MWDL. Once the user is in MWDL, they can click throuugh to the source image available at your institution.

example record

How often does DPLA obtain new metadata records from MWDL?

DPLA harvests our records bi-monthly via Ex Libris Primo's API. That means once you see your records in MWDL, they should be in DPLA within about two months later. If you make changes or updates to your records, those changes will also be visible in DPLA.

Will DPLA make changes to the metadata records?

DPLA will enrich your shared metadata in order to provide additional browse and search access points within the context of the DPLA portal. This includes enhancing the metadata with chronological and geographic place data, by leveraging the textual information in your source metadata record – and computing dates and geographic coordinates from that textual information.

Can I obtain copies of DPLA's version of my institution's metadata records?

Yes. You can obtain and re-use any of the metadata that DPLA adds to your original metadata by downloading the DPLA metadata. Learn more about DPLA's bulk download option...

How else can I interact with DPLA's version of my institution's metadata records? Is there an API?

DPLA maintains an open Application Programming Interface (API), to encourage the independent development of applications, tools, and resources that make use of metadata on the DPLA platform. For example, you can build an app that draws on the metadata records in DPLA to create an innovative and new visualizations or curated views of collections -- see the DPLA App Library for ideas. Learn more about DPLA's API...

What is a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0)?

Part of DPLA's mission is to make information about cultural heritage resources freely available, broadly discoverable, and widely usable. For this purpose, it harvests metadata records that are contributed by libraries, archives, and museums throughout the United States – and aggregates those metadata records into a single platform. Based on the assumption that the vast majority of metadata is not subject to copyright protection because it either expresses only objective facts, or is limited in its "originality", DPLA assigns a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication (CC0) to the metadata that it makes available. By contributing metadata to the DPLA, you are demonstrating that you share DPLA's vision of a strong public option that libraries, archives, and museums represent to our communities. Users are thus free to harvest, collect, modify and/or otherwise use the metadata records. Learn more about DPLA's policy for metadata records...

What about the copyright status of the digital items themselves?

The copyright status of the digitized or born-digital item – e.g., the digital photograph, document, newspaper, or other cultural artifact – is separate and distinguished from the metadata record. The copyright status of the item may be in the public domain, copyrighted, or may have unknown copyright status. As the entity that is primarily responsible for curating and maintaining the source item, your institution also would have evaluated and determined the copyright status of the item – and when possible, would have indicated this information as part of the metadata record. Within the DPLA portal, copyright-specific metadata will be displayed under a Rights label.

How can I contribute new content to MWDL?

If you are already an MWDL partner hosted on one of our Member Repositories and would like to add a new collection to MWDL, you can fill out a Collection Submission form on our website. If you have several new collections that you would like to be harvested, contact us about sending a spreadsheet with similar information if you prefer.

My institution isn't already a partner of the MWDL. How can we participate?

Are you a memory institution in the Mountain West who would like your materials to be represented in MWDL and DPLA? We welcome the opportunity to work with you to increase access to your collections. See our Get Involved page or contact us to learn more!


Content adapted with permission from the California Digital Library's Calisphere webpage