Digital Public Library of America Sends Out Call For a Beta Sprint

Earlier today, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) Steering Committee put out a call for a “Beta Sprint” to bring to the surface “innovations that could play a part in the building of a digital public library.” From the announcement:

The Beta Sprint seeks, ideas, models, prototypes, technical tools, user interfaces, etc. – put forth as a written statement, a visual display, code, or a combination of forms – that demonstrate how the DPLA might index and provide access to a wide range of broadly distributed content. The Beta Sprint also encourages development of submissions that suggest alternative designs or that focus on particular parts of the system, rather than on the DPLA as a whole.


John Palfrey on The Digital Public Library of America Beta Sprint (6 minutes)

There is a two-step process for submitting an idea:

  1. File a 400-word statement of interest with the DPLA by June 15th (which includes an acknowledgment of the intellectual property policy).
  2. Make a final submission by September 1st.

Participants will be notified of the results of the review in late September or early October 2011 and will be invited to a DPLA meeting in October in Washington, DC.

In the video introducing the beta sprint, John Palfrey points to the March’s Concept Note and the description of research tracks on the DPLA wiki. Jennifer Howard on Wired Campus blog of The Chronicle of Higher Education has a blog post about the DPLA beta sprint with a few quotes from some of the principle people.

This is an interesting way to gather more input about what the DPLA will look like and interact with local libraries. It reminds me of a traditional “Request for Information” process but is much more wide open in its call for new concepts from anyone — not just established players. The breadth of possible submissions will make the task of selecting proposals to be presented to a wider audience a challenging process. Submissions can be anything from data models to wireframe user interface mockups to running code.

Anyone Interested in Working on Library-Friendly DRM?


After thinking about this for a day, if I were inclined to submit something to the DPLA beta sprint it would be around the idea of acquiring digital forms of recent publications from publishers and wrapping them in DRM that the DPLA controlled on behalf of libraries. This is an idea that Iris Jastram and Steve Lawson posted about earlier this year and one that came up again in a posting last month of experiments with the Adobe Content Server at the Douglas County (Colorado) Libraries. I think this idea has merit as a way a national program could leverage technology infrastructure on terms that are more aligned with libraries than the library-oriented-but-publisher-based digital distribution plans that we’ve seen so far in the market. Anyone else interested in working on that?

The text was modified to update a link from http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/dpla/Concept_Note to http://dp.la/wiki/Concept_Note on September 26th, 2013.

The text was modified to update a link from http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/dpla/Main_Page#Research_Tracks_in_Support_of_Workstreams to http://dp.la/wiki/Main_Page#Research_Tracks_in_Support_of_Workstreams on September 26th, 2013.

(This post was updated on 26-Sep-2013.)