21 April 2013

My first look at the Digital Public Library of America

 How excited were you to explore this new amazing resource?

First glimpse: beautiful.

I was very pleased to open the Digital Public Library of America (or DPLA) on Sunday when I finally had some time to devote to it. The format, layout, color scheme… all very well done and easy to navigate. Thank goodness.

One thing that caught my attention right away was the “Timeline” link in the top menu. I love me a good timeline! Nearly every state I research in, this is a vital tool for me; finding a good online timeline for the area that gives me major events in the history of the area. I tried this first, in my exploration of the new site, and did a search for “Colorado.” The site came back with 17,324 results, beginning in 1827. The results were displayed in a graph, and you click on each bar of the graph to see the events. I chose the year 1859, since that was the year that gold was discovered in Breckenridge, to see if it made the list. What I got was this:

DPLA screenshot 1
Screenshot of "Colorado" search results in the timeline feature. 21 Apr 2013.

Nine images related to “1859” in Colorado. The red link is a title, which then directs you to a citation and brief description of the book. I noticed that you can also view the results of the initial timeline search in list form, or by location on a map. A nice feature.

DPLA screenshot 2
Screenshot of search results for "Colorado" in the timeline, but displayed on the map. 21 Apr 2013

My next exploration was a general search from the homepage. I looked up “Moravian,” since that is a topic I’m working on right now. It brought me 43 results – which is not too bad compared to other sites I have visited in the past week – and a quick scroll through brought me several options to review. I was able to locate exact articles (which then referred me to sites like Internet Archive); census records; images of artwork, historical objects and portraits, to name a few. One feature I particularly liked about the site was the availability to filter the results by the Owning Institution or online Partner, allowing me to chose just what I could access online. Other filtering options include location, subject, date and language. (Also a nice feature, since many Moravian records are in German!) 

First glance, I’m impressed. I see this becoming one of my “go-to” resources, for any major project and plan on using it often.

I recommend following the DPLA on Twitter or Facebook for the latest info and updates. You can find the links on their homepage: 

The Digital Public Library of America

Have you had a chance to explore the site yet? What are your thoughts? I would love to hear about it!