Historypin and Digital Public Library of America win Knight News Challenge Award for Work In Rural Libraries

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Historypin wins Knight News Challenge award to gather, preserve, and measure the impact of public library-led history, storytelling, and local cultural heritage in rural US communities in partnership with Digital Public Library of America. You can follow our progress on the project on our blog.


BOSTON & SAN FRANCISCO —Historypin announced today that they have been awarded $222,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as part of its Knight News Challenge on Libraries, an open call for ideas to help libraries serve 21st century information needs. Selected from more than 615 submissions, Historypin’s “Our Story” project, a partnership with Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), will collaborate with more than a dozen rural libraries in New Mexico, North Carolina and Louisiana to host lively events to gather and preserve community memory, and to measure the impact of these events on local communities.

“Local historical collections are some of the most viewed content in DPLA, and express the deep interest in our shared community history,” according to Emily Gore, Director for Content at DPLA. “Making cultural heritage collections from rural communities accessible to the world is extremely important to us, and this project will help us further share this rich history and the diverse stories to be found.”

“This award gives us the ability to work with small libraries to provide a toolkit–a physical box with posters, materials and guidance–to make it easy for librarians and volunteers to engage their community in memory sharing events,” said Jon Voss, Strategic Partnerships Director for Historypin. “We know through research that getting people across generations and cultures to sit together and share experiences strengthens communities, and this project will help local libraries to better measure their social impact.”

Led by national partners Historypin and DPLA, together with state and local library networks, Our Story aims to expand the national network and projects of thousands of cultural heritage collaborations that both DPLA and Historypin have established and increase the capabilities of small, rural libraries. Participating libraries in Our Story will be supplied with kits and training to guide them through a number of steps, including recruiting staff and volunteers for the project, planning for digitization and preservation, running community events and collecting stories, and measuring engagement and impact, among other important steps. The library kits and training will be based on four key areas — training, programming, preservation, and evaluation — and will pull in methodology and curriculum developed by both DPLA and Historypin in their work with cultural heritage partners throughout the US and around the world.

“The project will help promote civic engagement, while providing libraries with meaningful data, so they can better understand their impact on communities and meet new information needs,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation.

The Knight News Challenge, an open call for ideas launched in late February 2014, asked applicants to answer the question, “How might libraries serve 21st century information needs?” Our Story aims to advance the library field in three key areas: measuring the social impact of public libraries, strengthening a national network of digital preservation and content discovery, and demonstrating the potential of open library data. The outputs of the project will be published and openly licensed for reuse in other rural libraries worldwide.

To learn more about DPLA and Historypin’s Our Story project, visit our archived News Challenge application page here.

About DPLA

The Digital Public Library of America (https://dp.la) strives to contain the full breadth of human expression, from the written word, to works of art and culture, to records of America’s heritage, to the efforts and data of science. Since launching in April 2013, it has aggregated over 13 million items from 2,000 institutions. The DPLA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.

About Historypin

Historypin.org is a global non-profit project that builds community through local history. Over 3,000 cultural heritage organizations and 75,000 individuals have used the site to discover, share and enrich community memory since 2010.

About Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.