Digital Collections and the Digital Public Library of America

Seven court transcripts relating to moonshine cases have been added this month to the Food and Cooking collection. That is interesting news in itself, but what if you could search those records alongside other moonshine materials from all over the country? Well, soon be able to do that because the Food and Cooking collection will join many of our other online materials in the Digital Public Library of America.

You may recall seeing this announcement posted on the blog from the Department of Cultural Resources about the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill becoming the state hub for the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

But what does that actually mean and what is the DPLA?

Here’s a quote from the NC Digital Heritage Center website that explains it well:

 “The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is a national digital library that brings together metadata from digital collections around the country into a single, searchable website. It also makes that metadata available to developers through an API (application programming interface), enabling reuse for all kinds of purposes – from visualization to data mining.

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is the North Carolina service hub for the DPLA. The Digital Heritage Center works with North Carolina institutions interested in sharing their collections by aggregating metadata feeds and preparing them for ingest into the DPLA. To learn more about service hubs, visit the DPLA website.”

What does this mean for the State Archives and our users?

Screenshot of the Digital Public Library of America homepage.

Screenshot of the Digital Public Library of America homepage.

The shared digital collections of the State Archives and the State Library of North Carolina, better known as the North Carolina Digital Collections, can now be found through the DPLA’s website, alongside materials from the National Archives and Records Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, the Digital Library of Georgia, Kentucky Digital Library, South Carolina Digital Library, University of Virginia Library,  New York Public Library, Harvard Library, and many more institutions from across the country.

Institutions contribute metadata and thumbnails of their materials to the DPLA, but the actual item remains with the institution. In other words, you can do a search in the DPLA on a topic, let’s stay with “moonshine” for this example, and from that you might get a list of things like photographs, government reports, stories, songs, and eventually our court transcripts related to moonshine cases. But to actually read those transcripts, you’ll need to click on the link which will take you back to the North Carolina Digital Collection where the full digital copies of the items live.

So the DPLA offers yet another means for people in North Carolina, across the country, and internationally to discover materials from the State Archives and the State Library. That’s something we’re pretty excited about.

You can’t find moonshine records yet, but what can you find?

State Archives materials from these collections are already available through the DPLA:

  • Archives Treasures
  • Black Mountain College
  • Carolina Christmas
  • Civil War
  • Governor’s Papers (Modern)
  • NC Family Records Online
  • North Carolina Newspapers
  • Speaker Ban Law
  • State Fair History
  • Travel and Tourism Photographs
  • War of 1812 Pay Vouchers
  • Women, Marriage, and the Law
  • World War I