May 28, 2022

DPLA Leadership Discusses “Metahub” Development Project During Recent Board of Directors Call

Notes from the Digital Public Library of America Directors Call (February 20, 2014) are now online (3 pages; PDF).

During the call a recently submitted proposal by Karen Cariani, WGBH, and Peter Kaufman, Intelligent Television to develop a DPLA hub focused on moving images was discussed.

The full text of the proposal can be found here (2 pages; PDF] We’ve also embedded a copy at the bottom of this post.

From the Proposal:

What is needed for a media hub? A content hub just aggregating metadata, the issues around media as part of the collection aren’t so different as other digital objects. You won’t need to worry about streaming servers because the content will be streamed through the originators. Some of the metadata may be different (like formats), but mostly people will be searching on the same metadata as other objects. So the aggregation of data would be the same.

DPLA may however want to think about tools on the DPLA site to help curate media materials. And tools to help enhance the metadata with the media materials. Currently that is what is really lacking in being to find media on the web is poor descriptive data. If DPLA could enhance that data it would be a big help to the archives that have this media and will make the content more accessible.

Notes from the meeting provide at what some members of the DPLA Board think about the idea/concept.

  • In providing an overview of [DPLA Executive Director, Dan] Cohen highlighted the tensions between including these “metahubs” [institutions with specific types or subjects and any potential market confusion that would occur as a result (i.e., who would have the “right of way” for interested/prospective hubs?).
  • [Cohen] imagines that a “moving picture” or “images” hub would be simpler to spin up than a “museum hub,” which would require a greater degree of social engineering.
  • Robert Darnton approved of the idea and said that a pilot with 1-2 metahubs would be a smart approach.
  • Amy Ryan seconded this idea.
  • Paul Courant said that the implicit notion that working with a particular type of content, such as images or video, would be easier than museums, was a right one, as it aligns with the work already happening in libraries.
  • [John] Palfrey clarified that the creation of these metahubs wouldn’t break away from DPLA’s existing architectural design: these metahubs would aggregate data and leave the hosting of items to the holding institutions.

 A Quick Comment From Gary

A moving image hub as well as the overall concept of “metahubs” are both excellent ideas. 

During presentations and discussions I frequently speak about how the lack of overall awareness of digitized multimedia material (including moving image content) available the Internet by the librarians, educators, and the public at large.

A lack of awareness means a lack of use of what is an already large and rapidly expanding amount of spectacular content. This is the type of web-accessible material many of us dreamed becoming available not that long ago. 

This lack of awareness is in large part fueled by the fact that multimedia content can be challenging for many to discover. 

DPLA can and should help with helping bringing about an increased awareness and usage of moving image, multimedia, and other types of content. It’s a win for all parties. Most importantly it will be a win for students, teachers, and all other user groups. 

Along with a moving image hub, a hub focusing on recorded audio (radio shows, lectures, interviews, etc.) might also worthwhile to consider.

Other DPLA Board Call Topics

  • DPLA at ALA Midwinter
  • DPLA and FCC E-Rate

Full Text: Notes from the Digital Public Library of America Directors Call (February 20, 2014) 

DPLA Content Hub Proposal by Peter Kaufman and Karen Cariani

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.