Memorial Day in Pennsylvania

Observed in the United States on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day honors those who died in the armed forces. Many cities in the United States have claimed to be the originators of Memorial Day, including Boalsburg, Pennsylvania. Boalsburg declared itself the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1864, according to this pamphlet (oddly enough, a part of the Digital Library of Georgia’s collections!). Unfortunately for Boalsburg, President Lyndon Johnson declared in 1966 that Waterloo, New York was the official birthplace of this tradition. Regardless of its birthplace, we celebrate this day every year by organizing parades, decorating gravesites, wearing remembrance poppies, and thanking those who served.

Here are some items from PA Digital collections highlighting celebrations in our state’s past:

Memorial_Day_Parade_1927Memorial Day Parade, 1927. Courtesy of James V. Brown Public Library.

Memorial Day Parade, 1945. Courtesy of James V. Brown Public Library.

View of canoes with lead canoe pulling a smaller canoe filled with flowers, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Courtesy of Lehigh University.

resolverThomas Sovereign Gates (Penn President, 1930-1944) places a wreath at War Memorial plaque in Furness Library, 1945. Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania.

Memorial Day also typically signals the official beginning of summer! After the prolonged winter this year, we could sure use it. The long weekend is a popular time for backyard barbecuing, spending time in the garden, or heading down the shore (and, of course, getting stuck in traffic on the way home). Take a look at how Pennsylvanians have celebrated:

Boys_swim_at_Vare_Recreation_Center.jpgBoys swim at Vare Recreation Center, 1964. Courtesy of Temple University. 

Miss Mermaid celebrates Atlantic City beach opening. Courtesy of Temple University.

sizeMemorial Day traffic, 1972. Courtesy of Temple University.

We hope you all take some inspiration from these celebrations and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. Happy summer!

MARAC Spring 2018

This post is by Brandy Karl, Copyright Officer @ the Pennsylvania State University and member of PA Digital Metadata Team Rights Subgroup and Rachel Appel, co-project manager of PA Digital.

Our panel! Top row from left: Doreva Belfiore, Linda Tompkins-Baldwin, Gabe Galson, Jen Palmentiero. Bottom row from left: Paul Kelly, Rachel Appel, Brandy Karl. Photo taken by Jessica Lydon.

This month, we had the pleasure of presenting at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives (MARAC) Spring 2018 Conference in Hershey, PA along with PA Digital colleagues, Doreva Belfiore (HSLC), Gabe Galson (Temple University), and members of other hubs, Paul Kelly (DC Public Library and District Digital), Linda Tompkins-Baldwin (Enoch Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource and Digital Maryland), and Jen Palmentiero (Southeastern New York Library Resources Council and Empire State Digital Network).

A highlight of the conference was the keynote by Trevor Owens, Head of Digital Content Management at the Library of Congress. Trevor’s keynote was framed around his book Theory & Craft of Digital Preservation (full preprint available via link). He discussed how we’ve been working on digital preservation for over half a century and made points about the holistic nature of digital preservation. For example, software cannot preserve anything and a repository is the work that people do with tools, workflows and processes. Hoarding is also not digital preservation and therefore appraisal is key. It was a great way to start the conference!

Our own panel was a birds-of-a-feather on rights statements, “True Rights Statement Confessions” [slides can be found at this link]. The completely Q&A focused session aimed to bring together various experts from mid-Atlantic DPLA Hubs who have implemented standardized rights statements for digital collections, worked on education and training for its constituent institutions’ digital collections, or have done rights statements analyses across their home institution or constituent collections. Attendees were encouraged to ask any questions about normalized rights statements. We had some great questions and discussions, such as when to use the Public Domain license versus the No Copyright – US statement and how rights statements are user-centric and focus on potential uses of the item than the repository’s risk profile.

Interestingly, we did get a number of questions that focused on copyright concerns. One great question asked about the difference between the rights of the original work and the digitized facsimile, or surrogate. Other questions included where to put in permissions information (if at all) and the notion of what is someone’s intellectual property in handwritten modern letters.

We had a total of 68 attendees and did not need to use any of our backup questions in case folks didn’t have any. We hope the attendees enjoyed the session and MARAC Spring 2018 as much as we did.

DPLA Members Meeting 2018 Recap

Rachel Appel, Doreva Belfiore, Gabe Galson, and I attended the first DPLA Members Network Meeting held in Atlanta, GA. Including PA Digital, 23 of 27 member hubs were represented at the meeting, which provided us the opportunity to chat with other attendees about our ideas, goals, projects, questions, challenges, and successes.

The first day consisted of updates from the DPLA team, including a welcome from new DPLA Director John Bracken, who set the tone for the meeting by asking questions for us to consider around our audiences and our impact. Other members of the DPLA team provided updates on ongoing work around curatorial projects, rights statements applications, QA practices, and analytics. We learned that the DPLA has 141 Primary Source Sets available on their website, which comprise 30-35% of traffic to the DPLA during the school year. DPLA also has 33 exhibits currently, which represents 15-20% of traffic to DPLA. I was interested in these because we are in the midst of creating our own Primary Source Sets at PA Digital, and I was interested in not only how the DPLA went about creating these, but how they measured their impact.

Another highlight of the first day was nine lightning talks covering a variety of projects spearheaded by hubs, ranging from metadata aggregation in Michigan to geospatial mapping in Minnesota to connecting LIS students into cultural heritage institutions in Wisconsin. Rachel and I were able to present on the Primary Source Sets project too!

Using sorcery to impress everyone at the DPLA Members Meeting! (Photo courtesy of Doreva Belfiore.)

Our talk, Primary Source Set Sorcery, gave an overview of our approach to creating primary source sets (disclaimer: no sorcery was actually performed). We received positive feedback from hubs who have already created Primary Source Sets or were working towards it. We’re looking forward to updating you on this project more soon! (You can also find our slides here.)

The second day of the meeting included sessions and workshops in areas such as rights statements, outreach, networking, repository challenges, partner recruitment, and building hubs. I attended a workshop on with Greg Cram from the NYPL and Emily Gore from the DPLA who walked us through the three major categories of In Copyright, No Copyright, and Other, with really helpful examples of what a good rights statement looks like, as well as some confusing ones. This is something we have been actively working on at PA Digital and it was great for me to see how Greg and Emily taught us so we can continue educating ourselves and our contributing institutions on how to properly apply rights information to their collections.

Some of the sessions around outreach and partner recruitment allowed hubs to share approaches that have worked for them as well as some challenges that we all face. One of the challenges that resonated with me was how to reach out to unique types of institutions and/or users and how do we measure the impact we have. For example, one challenge that many hubs related to was connecting with institutions across large states. An obstacle we are working on is making connections with institutions in Central and Western Pennsylvania, while I am based at Temple University, all the way out east in Philadelphia. I heard from many other hubs who have staff centralized in one part of the state who don’t know where to start in reaching out to others further away. Many others hubs do a lot of work to keep up with local conferences, listservs, and following up with their connections from all over their state. This is something we will continue to improve on, and if you’re reading this and interested in working with us, email us!

Having a community of peers to connect with around these issues and questions was really helpful and PA Digital is excited to continue participating in these events. Thanks for hosting us, DPLA!

Stefanie Ramsay


The Importance of Fair Use and Standardized Rights Statements for Digital Cultural Heritage

By Gabe Galson and Rachel Appel

Originally posted for Fair Use Week and Scholarly Communication @ Temple.

At Temple University Libraries several staff members work on the PA Digital project. PA Digital is the Pennsylvania service hub of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA). The DPLA aggregates digital collections (images, photographs, text, maps, audio and video) shared by libraries and archives’ special collections all across the United States, allowing researchers to efficiently search, browse, and utilize these resources through a single interface. PA Digital is a statewide partnership that collects materials from Pennsylvania cultural heritage organizations, then transmits them to the DPLA, making them available to the widest possible audience. All of these activities are enabled, to a great degree, by Fair Use.  

Fair Use is a US legal doctrine that allows limited reuse of copyrighted materials. It is an invitation to the sort of intellectual/artistic exchange that keeps our culture vibrant, and a counterbalance against the the US’s increasingly strict copyright laws. Sampling, artistic appropriation, creative or educational quotation, parody, and text mining/textual analysis are all activities that flourish under Fair Use’s protection, shielded –to a degree at least– from the threat of litigation. Likewise libraries, archives and museums around the country have been able to digitize their archival objects and make them freely accessible online because of the fair use doctrine. Many digital collections that are available through PA Digital and the Digital Public Library of America, for example, are in copyright; digitizing and making them publicly discoverable through a database platform is considered fair use. However, it is important to communicate clearly to users, such as scholars and researchers, that such works remain in copyright and have use restrictions and limitations. Fair Use is a key concept that enables both digitization and reuse of digital facsimiles and is the rationale for making cultural heritage collections available online, in local repositories as well as the DPLA.

That’s where comes in. The site provides 12 normalized, standardized statements that cultural heritage institutions can use to describe the copyright status of online cultural heritage materials. A joint global project of Digital Public Library of America, Europeana, New York Public Library, University of Michigan, and other institutions, went live in 2016. It creates three categories of statements (with four statements in each) to be used with cultural heritage materials, including some terms for use in the EU. The goal is to provide cultural heritage institutions with simple and standardized terms to summarize the copyright status of Works in their collection and how those Works may be used.

There are three overall categories with four specific rights statements within each: In Copyright, No Copyright, and Other.

Rights Statements and Licenses are critical for digitization and data reuse. A normalized rights statement or Creative Commons license makes it so much easier for a member of the public to understand how that item can be used. The Digital Public Library of America has incorporated statements into their portal to function as a facet for searching because they are all machine readable and normalized. A similar metaphor is shopping through an online retailer – when we buy from online retailers what do we look for? Ideally, items with Free Shipping. This makes it easy for scholars to look for Works that can be used in their publications and research.


Example DPLA record from Penn State University with NoC-US statement

Beyond traditional scholarship, normalized rights statements can also encourage creative reuse of Works if people know what they can and can’t do. For example, DPLA’s annual GIF IT UP campaign, where users make images into gifs, and the #ColorOurCollections nationwide promotion by galleries, libraries, archives and museums, where end users are encouraged to reuse digital objects as coloring pages.


Gif made by Michael Carroll for GIF IT UP 2017. Drawing (Two Birds on Flowers) from the Free Library of Philadelphia. is still getting off the ground, but it promises to make the process of identifying usable Works far simpler and less time-consuming for researchers, scholars, and students. Take a look at the Europeana aggregator’s eight million plus ‘free reuse’ results for an example of what’s possible via machine-readable statements. Go forth and reuse!

More resources:
Ballinger, Linda, et al. “Providing Quality Rights Metadata for Digital Collections Through” Pennsylvania Libraries: Research & Practice, vol. 5, no. 2, 2017, pp. 144–158.

Fair Use Checklist: Resources:

PA Digital webinars:

Menand, Louis. (2014). Crooner in Rights Spat. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

2017 Knight Grant Subaward Success

We at PA Digital are wrapping up our work with our generous Knight Grant subaward from the DPLA for 2017.

The funding from the Knight Grant allowed us to expand our outreach to potential contributors in the Knight Communities of Philadelphia and State College, PA. We have seen a sizable increase in the number of records, collections, and institutions represented in DPLA as a result of these outreach efforts. 

Our numbers:
Since March, we have ingested 59,575 new records from 93 new collections, and 12 new institutions within the Knight communities. This exceeded our goals for the sub-award!


Our events:

  • PA Digital Orientation webinar targeted towards Knight institutions on July 20th [slides]
  • “Connect and Communicate” webinar Pennsylvania Library Association “Connect and Communicate” webinar on May 17
  • Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association Institute in-person session on June 23
  • “Metadata Anonymous” webinar in an effort to expand the conversation about metadata quality and explain our various review processes on August 23 [slides]
  • “Metadata Anonymous” in-person workshop based on the webinar at the Free Library of Philadelphia on December 7 [slides]

Our Rights Statements Training:

We created three Rights Webinar “modules” with the aim of providing context and guidance toward implementing the recommendations.

  • Copyright 101 [video]
  • What is a Rights Statement [video]
  • Implementing Rights Statements [video]

Thank you to everyone who became a contributor, attended one of our workshops or webinars, and supported our increased outreach efforts to Knight communities. Please contact us if you have any questions, concerns, or would like to contribute additional collections:


Image: East Broad Top Railroad 14 train, Frank G. Zahn Railroad Photograph Collection, Temple University


Image: Epistle of caution against pride, &c. from the Yearly Meeting in London, 1718, Quaker Broadsides Collection, Haverford College Quaker and Special Collections & Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Prior update blog post: