May 24, 2022

Digital Public Library of America Holds Board of Directors Call, Includes Discussion About Gaining More Use in Classrooms

On Wednesday, September 11th, the DPLA Board of Directors held their regularly schedule telephone meeting to share and discuss DPLA news and other topics.

Today, notes from call were made available online (3 pages; PDF).

You’ll  Learn About:

  1. What Dan Cohen, DPLA Director, shared in his update
  2. John Palfrey announcing the formation of board committees.
  3. Dan Cohen responding to a question about DPLA’s short term (next six months) and near term (two-three years) challenges 

Included on the list of things DPLA will do in 2014 is create a sustainability plan.

Finally, we were very happy to read that Cohen took the time to mention that DPLA community needs to “spread the word” about the library to gain more traction and use in classrooms.

Cohen and the other board members are 100% correct and it’s great they’re talking about it.

Building an online web resource is, as we often point out, not a field of dreams. Building it does not mean people (in this specific case educators, students, and parents) will come and use it and people have no chance of using what they don’t know about.

There is a lot of competition for mindshare and DPLA will have to work hard and create a message (in fact, multiple messages aimed at specific groups of users) that appeal to students, educators, and for that matter librarians, to understand the immense and growing value DPLA can provide.

The meeting notes include mentions of several important things DPLA is considering or already doing.

However, all of this it’s still not enough.

Don’t misunderstand us, a teaching tools page and the other suggestions are a must but another well-developed strategy needs to be part of the overall plan. 

The best way for DPLA to grain traction in the classroom and everywhere else for that matter is for those of us who are aware if the project to TALK about it and if possible share (easier said then done, we know) examples of what the database contains tailored the person/people you’re speaking with.

This type of marketing is something we discuss regularly discuss around here and in presentations can begin with your friends, family, and colleagues. All of these people are potential DPLA users. 

Word of mouth* marketing coupled with outreach and “hand holding” to specific influencers is not easy but if done properly can be massively successful. Just ask Google. 

By the way, a well crafted word-of-mouth marketing component coupled with selected “hand holding” is not limited to DPLA use. It’s something that while not easy is something all libraries should consider.

Finally, we think that a few strategic partnerships/collaborations with a select group of database vendors, professional groups, and others with a strong knowledge in the K-12 and higher-ed communities could be a big help to DPLA.

Direct to Notes From September 11, 2013 DPLA Board of Directors Call (3 pages; PDF)

* This literally means TALKING to people one-on-one or in small groups. Social media can be very helpful but it’s not a solution.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.