Skip to main content

Digital Public Library of America launches April 18, API hacks welcomed

Digital Public Library of America prototype home screen

It seems the dream for a free, online portal to all the content that is usually stuck in libraries scattered across the country will finally become a reality. The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will be unveiling its prototype website at the Boston Public Library on April 18 during National Library Week.

Like Google, the DPLA is really a portal that makes information searchable to anyone with Web access. So, why do we need a digital public library when we already have Google?

For one thing, the DPLA won’t be storing a copy of every piece of content on its own servers. The content will stay on the partner institutions’ computers, according to The Verge. Instead, the DPLA will focus on helping coordinate partner institutions scan and tag their materials so they will work with its site,

Whereas Google Books wanted to digitize and let users buy e-books through its site, the DPLA wants to give users free access to existing library collections for personal study. The idea is that any online user can go to the DPLA site, enter in the title or the author’s name, and be able to open up a digital version of the work that is technically stored at the Smithsonian, for example.

In fact, the DPLA is not looking to replace Google at all and welcomes the search giant to link to the digital library. As Executive Director Dan Cohen told The Verge, the database is built with a rich API for developers and artists to engage with its digital content, offering a “[Creative Commons]-zero license” for their derivative work. “If you’re Google, you can come right in and take everything. It’s just like Wikipedia. You can grab this stuff and use it as you want.”

Given the technology available, it no longer makes sense to not have access to all the content that’s available, whether it is in print or digital form. In fact, this is a very old idea that originated from the 18th century, according to The New York Review of Books. Our founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin understood that “the health of the Republic depended on the free flow of ideas,” and therefore championed the power of the printing press and libraries to spread knowledge beyond the elite.

A digital public library takes this need to provide people with access to information a step further, by making all the materials in libraries and museums scattered across our country available online. At least that’s the end goal. The first iteration of the DLPA will focus on making all the print content like books, manuscripts, magazines, and digital text from partner institutions digital, searchable, and accessible through its website. Eventually, it would like to include other media like images, works of art, movies, and audio, and grow its list of partner institutions to create a comprehensive national online library.

Although the DPLA is still in its infancy, it has already signed up an impressive list of institutions that will be participating in this worthwhile initiative. You’ll be able to find content from the Smithsonian, National Archives and Records Administration, Harvard University Library, the New York Public Library, ARTstor, and even some state and regional digital libraries. The Library of Congress is the big name missing from the group, but the DLPA is still in its early stages, so there’s still a chance the Library of Congress will join. 

We’ll have to wait until April 18 to find out just what the DLPA will look like and how we’ll actually access all this digital content that was previously stuck on obscure bookshelves, in libraries we haven’t been able to visit in person. 

Gloria Sin
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Gloria’s tech journey really began when she was studying user centered design in university, and developed a love for…
Intel thinks your next CPU needs an AI processor — here’s why
intel meteor lake vpu computex 2023

Intel thinks your next processor upgrade should include a dedicated AI processor and its upcoming Meteor Lake chips conveniently fill that gap. The company detailed how it suspects its Vision Processing Units (VPUs) will be leveraged at Computex 2023, and it's including these processors stock on every Meteor Lake chip.

The VPU isn't new. Intel introduced this dedicated AI processor with its 13th-gen Raptor Lake processors, but only on a select few models. The company says they'll come on all Meteor Lake chips, which are slated to launch at the end of 2023.

Read more
This 27-inch Sony gaming monitor just got a rare price cut
The Sony InZone M3 Gaming Monitor with a game on the screen.

Searching for a new gaming monitor? You can't go wrong with the 27-inch Sony InZone M3 gaming monitor, especially since it's currently available with a 12% discount from Amazon. Price cuts for this gaming monitor are rare as it was only released earlier this year, but you can currently get it for $468 instead of $530 for $62 in savings. It's highly recommended that you complete the purchase as soon as possible though, because monitor deals like this usually don't last long.

Why you should buy the 27-inch Sony InZone M3 gaming monitor
The Sony InZone M3 gaming monitor was launched in January as the more affordable version of the Sony InZone M9 gaming monitor. Instead of 4K resolution, you'll only get Full HD resolution on its 27-inch screen, but the Sony InZone M3 makes up for that with a much higher 240Hz refresh rate for extremely smooth movements, as well as support for a variable refresh rate between 24Hz and 240Hz and Nvidia's G-Sync to eliminate screen tearing and stuttering. The gaming monitor also offers a 1ms GtG response time, which our computer monitor buying guide explains as how fast the display shows image transitions.

Read more
This bundle deal saves you $420 on two 17-inch HP laptops
Two HP Envy laptops against a white background.

It isn’t often you can grab two laptops bundled together for a great low price, but today that’s exactly what HP is offering. You can get two HP Envy 17-inch laptops with some pretty impressive specs for a total price of $880. Purchasing two of these together would normally cost $1,300, which makes this deal worth a savings of $420. HP is including free shipping with a purchase as well. This is a great bundle for anyone with a household that needs computers, or anyone looking for primary and backup laptops.

Why you should buy the HP Envy 17-inch laptop bundle
The HP brand has been around for a long time, and the name is almost synonymous with quality laptops. And like all of the best laptops, the HP Envy 17-inch laptop brings a speedy, responsive, and immersive computing experience to your digital life. As spec’d for this deal, it has all of the power most users could ever need, as it comes with an Intel 12-core i7 processor that’s clocked at up to 4.7GHz. It also has 16GB of system RAM and Intel Iris Xe graphics. Also included is 512GB of solid state storage, a speedy option with plenty of space for all of your software and apps.

Read more