DPLA Use Cases

Participate! How?

Finish these stories!

At the bottom of every use case is a comment field. In some cases, just to give you an idea of how to work, the narrative is complete. For example, check out Orion Velasquez or Becky Nielsen. You are encouraged to get creative and finish these stories using the DPLA as a solution to the problem described.

This is

a set of fictional use case scenarios written to focus the vision and scope of the DPLA platform and applications. The use cases weave together narratives with user personas to demonstrate solutions and limitations of hypothetical DPLA applications. Personas are abstracted individuals segmented according to likenesses in behaviors, attitudes, and goals.

This is not

real. None of these people are real, and all of the stories and details are 100% fabricated.

Please join the DPLA Audience & Participation workstream listserv to offer suggestions or ask questions.

Orion Velasquez

Scenario summary: Student Homework Assignment

14 year old Orion in Geneva, New York has a local history homework assignment that asks him to report on one of the five Iriquois Nations. Orion has his own laptop computer.


Orion's interested in having fun after school on Friday and getting his homework done so it won't interfere with his plans.


Orion is in a hurry to do his history paper on one of the five tribes of the Iriquois nation. He's a good student, but history is not his favorite subject and spring has sprung in upstate New York. It is currently 76 degrees and sunny outside. All winter Orion has been playing the Tony Hawk video game, dreaming of the day the snow would finally melt so he could get out to Shredder's Skatepark to learn a 180 heelflip. Friday all his boys will be hitting the ramps and he wants to go along.

Today is Thursday so Orion rides his board home from school, fixes a snack, sits down on the couch, and breaks out his laptop. "Stupid report," he mutters as he browses to Wikipedia and finds the article on the Iroquois. He knows full well his history teacher isn't OK with him doing all of his research on Wikipedia, but Orion pretty much always starts at Google or Wikipedia for his reports, "it's just so easy."

"Ah, the Mohawks sound pretty cool," says Orion as he scans the Wikipedia page. "Punk rock Indians, awesome."

What Orion doesn't realize is that his teacher, Ms. Montana, has an ulterior motive in this assignment. She has required that he do the project on awesomehistoryapp.com. While it appears to Orion that the assignment is all about selecting a tribe and regurgitating their history in a paper, Ms. Montana actually wants Orion to assemble a collection of quality sources which he will cite or reference in his report. This project is about teaching research skills, not about the paper! Knowing that the DPLA is the go-to source for all cultural heritage content on the web, Ms. Montana has a teacher's account on a website called awesomehistoryapp.com that pulls all of its content from the DPLA while adding a social layer as well. She loves this site because of all of the important primary source material from libraries, museums and archives, but also because students have the opportunity to interact with one another in a loosely structured learning environment.

Orion points his browser to awesomehistoryapp.com/montana/iriquois to find the details of his assignment. Ms. Montana set up a project page on awesomehistoryapp.com for all of her students so that they can log on and begin their research. Orion reads that he has to find at least 5 different sources for his report, 3 of which must have come from the DPLA network. He'll use Wikipedia for one of the non-DPLA sources (Ms. Montana has a liberal view about the authority of Wikipedia) and a book from his school library for another. Orion scans the Iroquois project page and sees that while most of the class chose to report on the Algonquin tribe, 6 of the 26 students in his class have already committed to the Mohawks as their tribe of choice, and that 4 of those students have already started building collections of materials. In fact, Janey Beddathanyew, the sharpest student in the class is done and her collection of sources is complete, has 14 items, and is ready to be browsed! Score!

Orion knows that if he simply lifts three sources from Janey's collection of materials Ms. Montana will realize this when she requests a project report from awesomehistoryapp.com. Items in awesomehistoryapp.com get a timestamp and userstamp when they are saved to a collection, and it will be clear Orion looked at Janey's completed collection since she was the first one done. So Orion sets up his own folder called 'OrionsMohawk', he copies two of Janey's sources to his folder, and he sets out to find a unique source to add to his collection.

In the search bar, Orion types "Mohawk Indians" and awesomehistoryapp.com returns a list of results. Once again, logged-in Orion sees all of Janey's diligent work as the list of results displays his class contacts' avatars next to items they've already saved to their collections. Janey's avatar is all over the place in the results; she clearly is getting deep with this project. "Hmf," says Orion. "I can find some stuff that little Janey overlooked, and that should get Ms. Montana off my back and I'll be able to go to Shredder's tomorrow afternoon".

So he gets to work. Orion plays with the location settings, adds filters to his search, and eventually finds another item that none of his classmates have. He adds the item to his 'OrionsMohawk' collection, changes his collection setting from "in progress" to "completed", and moves into the authoring module of awesomehistoryapp.com to create his own unique paper.

A paper in awesomehistoryapp.com has a different relationship to its source material than a typical paper. Orion's paper lives in the 'OrionsMohawk' directory with all of the resources he collected to cite in it. Orion writes his paper using all of the convenient built in citation tools offered by awesomehistoryapp.com, exports the folder creating an "offline" version of his paper, and clicks a button to alert Ms. Montana that his paper and citations are now completed and available for her review.

The next day, Orion has nothing Iriquois related on his mind as he sticks his first 180 heelflip at Shredders Skatepark. He is stoked.

Becky Nielsen

Scenario summary: Job Seeker

Adult Becky lives in Lockhart, Texas and she wants to get a job at the local grocery store chain, but Becky has no resume.
Becky has no computer, and she doesn't know how to use one.


Becky needs a job. She'd rather be gardening 4 days a week, but she's going to do what she has to do for her family.


Becky has lived in Lockhart, Texas, for a few years, but she's gotten around the Southwest quite a bit. Her husband, Rick, has been in the trade show business his entire life. Things were always just fine for the two of them on Rick's salary but the economic downturn hit his business hard. Rick is half as busy as he used to be. Becky hasn't needed to work in years but in order for Becky and Rick to make ends meet, they've decided she will need to take a job somewhere in town.

When she was shopping last Tuesday, Becky noticed a sign at the local grocery store: "Now Hiring!" Becky's heart lept. The grocery store is only a 10 minute walk from her house! What a great opportunity. Then she read on...

"Submit your application and resume at www.texasgrocerystore.com"

Becky's heart sank.

Becky had never really gotten around to learning her way around a computer and the Internet. Her friends talk about Facebook and all of the fun they have on there. Though she's been tempted to try the computer, she just never got around to it. If you asked her why, she'd probably say "I'd rather be in the garden."

Becky sure didn't see this coming: an online application process! What to do? Then she remembered... her local public library has computers... and everyone is so nice over there... maybe they can help?

In the Lockhart Public Library Becky steps to the front desk and explains her situation to the librarian, Roxanne. Roxanne patiently listens and assures Becky it is no problem at all. She can set up a 30-minute appointment on a public computer and a librarian will help get her started.

"I'll warn you", says Roxanne, "There's a lot to learn. You may not be able to get all of this accomplished today, but I can point you to all of the different things you'll need to learn and to practice. You'll need to make a commitment to this, but it will pay off in the end."

"Thank you, this means so much to me!" responds Becky. The two of them settle down at a public computer station and get to work.

Roxanne has assembled a collection of resources about job hunting that she'd love to share with Becky, but she quickly discovers that Becky needs to take the library's Computer Basics class first. She explains to Becky that in this class she'll learn how to sign up for a free email account that she can use to connect with friends, family, and various websites, as well as with prospective employers.

"This is essential for submitting job applications," Roxanne explains.

Roxanne built her Computer Basics class, Facebook 101, and "How to Write an Effective Resume" and "How to Evaluate a Job Seeking Website" classes from the DPLA curriculum sharing app. Roxanne doesn't know what she'd do without this database full of ranked, shared curricula; there would never be time or resources to design all of these classes herself.

A year ago, a talented librarian named Jessica from Flint, Michigan, had received an IMLS grant to build capacity at her library in the job and career development center. The grant funded the development of curricula and required that she publish all of her work to the DPLA. The DPLA would enable her work to be be reused and repurposed at other institutions across the country.

Jessica is something of a rock star in libraryland now. The curriculum for her "How to Write an Effective Resume" class has a 96% positive rating on the DPLA and has been adopted by 348 libraries across the country as their choice resume class. A publisher has since approached Jessica with a deal to expand her work.

Two weeks later, Becky steps back into her local public library and waves hello to Roxanne, who is helping another library member. Becky goes straight to the six public computers, signs up to use a terminal, sits down, logs in, and checks her gmail account. Becky has become self sufficient; she doesn't need Roxanne's assistance just to check her email. She's been working hard to learn her way around the computer and the Web, and she submitted her job application to the grocery store only a few days ago. Her Inbox appears on the screen, and she nearly leaps out of her chair when she sees the message subject "Interview Request."

Two weeks later, Becky sees Roxanne again. This time they are in the grocery store and Roxanne is buying supplies for her weekend barbecue from Becky at the meat counter.

Joanie Utter

Scenario summary: Digitzation request

Senior citizen Joanie of Deadwood, South Dakota has a box full of historically significant photographs she wants to 'put on the computer'.
Joanie has no computer.


Joanie wants everyone to love her town as much as she loves her town.


Joanie Utter lived in Deadwood, South Dakota, all of her life. Her name is a significant one in Deadwood, as her distant relatives Charlie and Steve Utter were some of the first settlers in the town back in the gold rush of the 1870s. Joanie loves her town and her family history, and while she loved the series for her artistry, she was always a bit frustrated by the fictional tales the Jameson novels and HBO series made so popular. She's had a trunk of photographs and letters in her basement for many, many years, and she wanted to make them available to the public so others might enjoy viewing some of the true to life Deadwood originals.

Joanie remembered reading a profile in the local paper about how the recent popularity of Deadwood had driven a lot of extra visitors to the town's little historical society. For years, prior to any series, the town's small historical society had been collecting artifacts and records for the town of Deadwood. She wondered if they would be interested in any of the family artifacts she had stored away in an attic for so many years. Perhaps the society could help her preserve her family artifacts, while also helping others gain a better understanding of some of the real history behind Deadwood. With an inspired smile, she pulled down the attic ladder, crawled up, and pulled down an old trunk.

Dusting off the trunk, she began to assemble neat rows of photographs—some slightly curled at the edges, some faded and yellowed—but there was no particular order to them. Then she thought she should put them in chronological order, but that was hard to do, so she arranged them yet again. Finally Joanie said "the heck with it!" and got in her yellow station wagon and drove into town, resolved that the photos will at last be added to the town's growing collection of cultural memorabilia.

Joanie arrived at the historical society, clutching her box, and, as she struggled up the ramp to the yellow-brick building, she ran into an eager-looking young man wearing thick black glasses, blue jeans, and a black blazer.

"Hi there, Ma'm, I'm Arnold Forrest. How can I help you?" Joanie told him about the photos sitting so long in her attic and Mr. Forrest was genuinely excited. "We can do so much with this collection," he said. There is so much interest in the real Deadwood out there! I have other documents that mention the Utters—your ancestors—as well! Are you at all free over the next couple of weeks? She said only: "Mister, outside of this box of photos and that yellow station wagon out front, I have nothing but time." He laughed, and they set up a time to start working with her collection.

A few weeks later, Mr. Forrest had helped Joanie digitize her entire collection of photos. She was ecstatic! While Joanie had never used a computer, she found it remarkably easy to make digital scans of her pictures. Then, using a curation app he found on the DPLA, Mr. Forrest showed Joanie how to make the shoebox of photos she brought to him into a virtual shoebox of images on the Historical Society website. She was amazed at how easily they could be pulled out of the shoebox and added to other groups of photos. She could rearrange them in so many different orders--each arrangement like a new song, telling a slightly different story!

"Now the whole town can find them and tinker with them–not just the people invited to crawl around in my attic," she exclaimed.

"Actually," he explained, "the whole world will be able to find them! This shoebox app I use is a tool I found available on the DPLA. It allows me to curate small collections like yours and connect them to bigger collections around the country. Your little collection is sure to keep the interest in Deadwood alive even if people can't make it here."

Driving home in her yellow station wagon, Joannie thought how funny this all was. Someone, somewhere in the world was going to take an interest in her photos. Not longer than a few weeks ago they were dusty secrets in her attic.

"My, these are exciting times," she thought!

Chuck Henderson

Scenario summary: Research and Business Development

Dairy farmer Chuck of Spring Valley, Wisconsin is interested in breaking out of the cheddar business and producing some other kinds of cheese.
Chuck has a desktop computer in his house and a dialup internet connection.



Chuck Henderson was the proud owner of a medium-sized, independent organic dairy farm in Spring Valley, Wisconsin. On his farm he produced a lot of milk, of course, but also produced an awful lot of cheddar cheese too—living up to the billing of his home state. In fact, his father made the cheddar before him and his grandfather too.

"Making any other kind of cheese around these parts would just be wrong!" His father used to joke. And so, by that measure, his father taught him how to make cheddar cheese.

Yet over the years, while Chuck's business continued to prosper moderately, he started to develop an appetite to move beyond the cheddar business and to try making some other kinds of cheese. He wanted to make his business grow and, despite the family love-affair with cheddar, he wondered if there were other farmers in the state who were equally bored with making good old fashioned Wisconsin cheddar.

One night, after hours of hooking his cows up to his milking machines, Chuck decided to hop on the desktop computer in his home office and start looking around for some new cheese ideas. First he hopped on Google and searched "how to make Havarti" and found a lot of homemade recipes and content that might be perfect for the beginner, hobby cheese maker. But he didn't find all that much on producing the cheese on a large scale.

Chuck then searched the DPLA. He looked for some books on the subject and found a few titles of interest. The screen displayed the titles with links into other media: video tutorials, recipes, user reviews, and comments with links to the reviewer DPLA profiles which he could follow and with which he could potentially build relationships. Also available was a link into a live video chatroom that enabled people interested in making cheese to connect through video. Chuck found this "live-video" capability interesting, and he actually tuned into watching a farmer like himself walk through the process of making Havarti. He could then ask the farmer questions, and the farmer could return a response in real time verbally.

"This is amazing!" He thought. "I am certain to find other farmers who want to break out of the cheddar mold too!"

By the end of the day, he had made three contacts interested in starting a new organic, independent, cheese-makers' consortium that would together specialize in different cheese varieties.

Then, using the DPLA Business Share app, which was like a business analytics tool built to help manipulate and analyze market data harvested within the DPLA, Chuck was able to start researching market statistics related to Havarti and the potential opportunity it represented. Using the app he could tell there was a glut of cheddar already in the market, and by making Havarti he might land himself in a comfortable niche in which neither his father nor his grandfather could have ever possibly dreamed. He could share his analysis with the tool right to the chat room too, for other farmers to see as well.

Indeed Chuck was well on his way to making Havarti! With a business case in hand and three partners in a consortium making it feasible to make a broader range of cheese options, Chuck had used the DPLA not only to make connections in his field, but also to grow his family dairy business.

Fern Micah

Scenario summary: Readers Advisory

Fiction lover Fern of Jerome, Arizona thought that X book was fantastic, and hopes to find Y book and Z book based on her love of X book.
Fern likes to read on her Kindle.


Fern simply wants to read good books. She's a heavy reader, and she wants it to be easy for her to find new books that suit her tastes.


It's 4:30 a.m. and Fern's eyes are welled with tears as she turns the final pages of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead on her Kindle. This scene isn't too far out of the ordinary—Fern is a voracious reader and often stays up until ungodly hours of the morning to finish her latest book. She claps twice, turning off her clapper light, and goes to bed with narrator John Ames' poignant words of wisdom weaving through her dreams.

Fern loved Gilead so much—from Robinson's writing style to the story's musings on the curiosities and tribulations of life—that she's determined to find similar books to download to her Kindle Fire.

During the lull between lunch and dinner at Fern's restaurant, she turns on her Kindle to begin her search. Fern's Kindle has wi-fi capabilities and can download applications. She decides to download the DPLA mobile app, which she hears serves not only as a recommendation engine, but also as a lending library.

Upon downloading the app, Fern is prompted to create an account with the DPLA. Doing so allows her to participate in the DPLA's book ratings and reviews system, create specialized lists of books she's read and wants to read, use the DPLA recommendation engine, and connect with other readers using the DPLA app. The platform is seamlessly integrated with Fern's Kindle, enhancing the user-friendly experience of configuring the digital library to her tablet device. Fern carefully selects her avatar image and is well on her way to joining the DPLA reader's community.

Fern types "Gilead" into the DPLA recommendation engine, which produces a number of titles, all of which are by Marilynne Robinson. Since she's not necessarily looking for more books by Robinson, Fern thinks about how she can narrow her search to find titles that she thinks she'd enjoy. She decides to search for Gilead in book lists that her fellow DPLA app users have created.

Scouring through pages of user-created lists, Fern finally stumbles across one that boasts similar tags to Gilead: "award-winning," "small town America," "meditation on life." This list, created by a reader from Des Moines, seems to have exactly what Fern is looking for. She adds a number of titles to a "To Read" list on her profile, but is unsure if they will be available for immediate download to her Kindle.

Some of the texts are available for purchase, while others can be borrowed through the digital library. To her elation Fern sees that Richard Russo's Empire Falls is available to check out of the DPLA database at no cost. Fern quickly procures the book to her Kindle and begins reading. After a few pages, she realizes it's going to be another late night.

D. Wadsworth Cunningham

Scenario summary: The Open Access Epiphany (The Science Journal User)

Professor D. Wadsworth Cunningham who studies AMP research on atomic clocks and quantum optics provides precise tests of fundamental symmetries of physics and the origin and fate of the universe. In an epiphonic moment of curiosity (while cooking his dinner at home), he is compelled to find a recently published paper by a colleague on nano-scale imaging.
He has an apartment in Cambridge with high-speed internet access and a laptop.


The professor wants to make a siginificant contribution to his field, and he'll stop at (almost) nothing to do so.


Just moments ago Dr. H. Wadsworth had been asleep for some hours when he suddenly awoke—for a reason not yet apparent to him. He felt as if the machinery in his mind had been churning like the gears of a clock over an electric idea that had come to him in his sleep. As is often the case when one wakes with a head full of ideas, he also found himself hungry and decided to see if this idea would resurface over a late-night grilled cheese.

Flipping his sandwich over in the fry-pan it came to him: Nano-spectrum optics could be used as a method to measure atomic time and thus predict the end of the universe. The smallest particles could hold the keys to it all, the whole thing--the universe as we knew it. He quickly flipped his grilled cheese onto a plate, walked hastily into the dimly lit hall toward his living room, and opened up his laptop—the blue light illuminating the room.

He took a bite of his sandwich, and began his search in Google Scholar. He found several full-text articles which were mostly outdated and citations to newer articles that he couldn't access. He then searched broadly in Google and found websites, exhibits, and displays, but nothing with detailed research.

Other people were thinking about this idea too, but who exactly were they? What were their approaches? Where was the data? He tried his University Library site, but it didn't provide access to the articles he had been lucky enough to find. "Access Denied" the page read again and again. He took another bite of his grilled cheese and chewed miserably, nearly breaking a sweat with frustration. His idea was alone with him only, in this dimly lit living room late at night.

He then had what could be considered a second epiphany: Perhaps he could search the Digital Public Library of America. He logged onto the site and entered in his search terms. Using the DPLA research connection application, he found a myriad of completely accessible articles in full text. They were linked and surfaced through a network of open access repositories sponsored by research universities. The research connection app linked citations common among the articles he previewed and provided links to researcher websites and online profiles. There was also contact information with direct links. Through the app he could comment and ask questions directly on the paper.

Just a link away from the articles, he also found available data sets that were used to write the papers. He found data about the data, questions, and criticism. The tools were all here. He had found it: The network around his idea and the real-time dialogue going on around him. The research connection app linked citations common among the articles he previewed and provided links to researcher websites and online profiles with contact information. His idea had a neighborhood; others were thinking about this as well!

He finished the last of his midnight snack, leaned over and turned on the lamp. He started reading. By morning he had connected with three other researchers interested in nano-spectrum optics. Indeed the universe was a sum of so many smaller, connected parts.

Althea Hubbard

Scenario summary: First Paper In Years (The Distance Learner)

Althea, 34 and mother of three attends South Western Iowa Community College as a student in the distance learning program. She is enrolled in the Cultural Anthropology course and is writing her first paper since high school on the processes of enculturation.
She has a desktop computer that she shares with her kids.


Althea is driven to be both a good mother and part of the workforce. Even a workaholic would find her work ethic and dedication admirable.


Althea loves her cultural anthropology course, but between raising three kids and waitressing during the day, she hasn't been able to dedicate as much time as she would have liked to dedicate during the semester. Her final essay on the processes of enculturation is just around the corner, but it's been more than 16 years since she has written an "academic" essay. When she imagines typing the first word, an uneasiness stews within her. When she realizes the paper is due in a week, Althea panics: Her waitressing shifts overlap with the hours at her community college's writing center, so she won't be able to work with a tutor at all.

Althea e-mails the writing center, asking if they offer any sort of "first-start" writing courses or quick tips online. And she's in luck! The writing center has access to the Digital Public Library of America's curriculum sharing application that includes an hour-long online tutorial about the basics of writing an academic paper. The video tutorial, appropriately called Writing 101, jogs Althea's memory of topic sentences and citations and all wonderful things related to the structure and formatting of writing papers.

Feeling confident and inspired, Althea starts brainstorming her thesis and outlining her paper. Once she re-reads the prompt, however, Althea notices that her professor is requiring a special format unique to the academic discipline of anthropology called eco-spatial-sociocultural-ethnographic reporting. Unsure of how this style of writing will affect her paper, Althea panics again. She cruises back to the DPLA curriculum sharing app to see if there are any writing resources that specifically relate to anthropology.

Althea searches "eco-spatial-sociocultural-ethnographic reporting" and finds a webcast created by a group of anthropology graduate students from a well-known research university in Ohio. She watches the videos, diligently taking notes about this specialized form of writing. By the end of the video, Althea can breathe easily. She takes the next week to write her paper and couldn't be more proud of her final product.

Braulio Estes

Scenario summary: Searching for Harmony (Archival Musical Recordings)

Braulio is a third year student at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico studying Guitar Performance. Preparing for his final performance in his fingerboard harmonics class, he is looking for live recordings of the late Barney Kessel.
He has an iPhone and a iPad with travelling wifi access.


Braulio is really talented, and he wants to make his living playing the kind of music he loves.


Autumn in Puerto Rico is still so hot. Braulio had arrived at the Conservatory of Music of Puerto Rico to study guitar performance nearly three years ago. He remembered how hot it was then, and how so many of the other musicians in his first class would smile with promises that the temperature would let up a bit around the end of the September. But here he was on an early October morning, and it was still so darn hot.

The sun beamed in through the kitchen window over his sink and steam from his coffee mug on the kitchen table rose to meet it. Casually fingering his 10-string Jibarito model Cuarto guitar, he took little notice of how the stifling heat suffocated his languid phrases. His mind was thoroughly focused elsewhere (on a melody sometime in the not-too-far-off distance that he would have to prepare for his final classroom performance).

What would he play? He had the idea of a sound in his mind--some kind of cosmic riff floating out in space that would simply drop the temperature outside by 10 degrees because of how "cool" it was. He started to finger a phrase or two, but nothing beyond that. He put the guitar down and pulled out his iPhone (which served as the only computer in his apartment) and started browsing for inspiration. First he tried iTunes. But it was hard; searches didn't really yield any deep cuts, and listening to "snipits" of each song took so long that he thought he would try something else.

His three years at the school had introduced him to sources like the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music and Grove Music Online. These had served him well in the past and he liked to start there. Sometimes he learned about musicians and felt surprised that he had never heard about them before.

Sources gave him leads on the most influential jazz artists by sub-genre, instrument, geographical location—you name it. But it wasn't what he needed. This search was different—it was about finding a sound, not facts. He needed to hear, not read. With some names to work from in the jazz guitar genre, he thought he would try the DPLA. How to find the right tune with words? It would be easier for him to search with sounds.

Braulio had heard a little bit about the DPLA before, but thought it was probably a lot like the other music databases. To his surprise, however, he found an app that searched for music using sound rather than typing words—all you had to do was play what you wanted to find into the phone. Without any specific song in mind, Braulio placed his phone on the kitchen table, picked up his ten-string and played into it—just the phrase he had been playing over and over in his mind. The app connected him to about three dozen songs—a few of which were the same song done differently by multiple artists. "Autumn," a popular jazz tune, came up a number of times.

He smiled and thought, "maybe this will cool me off." Here he could listen to snipits and full- length recordings too. Clicking on a song, he was brought to scores detailing how each artist had arranged the song differently, and he could bring up multiple windows to study, comparatively, the different arrangements. Moreover, he could remix and splice the scores online, apply a menu of different instruments, and digitally recut the song; he could experiment in real time. In links he found artists who had performed the song. This then linked to discographies of the song and the artists—and provided links to video recordings of live performances of the song. Where and when the song was played was visualized in a timeline that he could analyze and parse out in order to understand the differences in interpretation over time. Links to live performances, recordings, papers, and articles were all available.

Then he found it: "Autumn" as played and arranged by Barney Kessel, San Diego, in the 1960's. "Now this is cool!" he thought. One cool San Diego night over a half century ago was going to be the tune he played in his final.

After he found the song, he found the fans. Fans of the song could be found listening as well—right along with him. There was also an app that connected people interested in the same song. Someone could play the song into the app and others from across the world could join in a "connected session" that could be recorded. Musicians could also arrange the notations to mix and remix in real time together. Braulio listened again and again to Kessel's smooth riffs and then switched apps and started playing. And then very soon many other people—from Alaska, Arkansas, and Connecticut--were riffing off of Braulio's melody.

Wendy Pope

Scenario summary: All Math All Girls (E-textbooks)

Professor Wendy Pope teaches Calculus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is volunteering her time at the annual "All Girls-All Math" summer camp for high school girls around the state. She wants to find links to the best free mathematics e-textbooks and refer them to her campers.
She has a campus office with high-speed internet access and a desk-top.


Wendy found it lonely being one of the few women in her math and computer science classes when she was in school, so she wants to encourage more young women to pursue careers in science and engineering.


Wendy Pope, a Calculus professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was excited for the upcoming week. The University held an annual math camp called "All-Girls-All Math" which invited high school girls from around the state to participate in fun and interesting mathematical exercises to generate enthusiasm for math and to foster the most talented female math students. Wendy was volunteering for the first time as a math coach.

She leaned back in her chair with a smile, thinking endearingly of her own enthusiasm for math as a high school student. She admittedly had to laugh at the fervor with which she approached all things math. In the fourth grade she was the first to multiply the twelve-tables and, in high school, she opted for a Texas Instrument scientific calculator instead of a new pair of shoes to wear on the first day of school.

She remembered making notes and annotations in her textbooks and giving them back at the end of the year all marked up with her work and the answers (which were almost always right). She would in turn receive a lecture from her math teacher, Mr. Kahn, for this exuberant, numerical vandalism.

"I will just make my own text book some day," she had said to him half-jokingly. "I bet you will" he responded, "I bet you will."

Then she had a thought--what if she assigned the incoming campers with the task of building a personalized textbook just for their own interests? Crossing multiple formats, the campers could each put together a chapter on the topic. Video tutorials and more traditional math tutorials in digital form could be aggregated to create the chapters. Commentary provided by the campers could add context and a personal touch. By explaining their work, campers would learn differently than had they just performed exercises from a book.

Then Wendy consulted the DPLA. With a simple search she was able to find lists of open access ebooks that others had put together, along with user reviews and annotations that looked a lot like those she remembered jotting in her old text books so long ago. She found a perfect tool for building her own e-textbooks in the DPLA content curation app, and then her experiment for the following week's math camp really started to take shape. First the content was all there: videos, whiteboard animations, teaching guides of the more traditional variety, and user comments suggesting other places to turn as well. Professor Pope was excited at the different kinds of media that she could locate using the DPLA, and the app would help put it all together! A user could curate and publish in nearly one instant!

Later that week, the girls in her troop were each assigned a topic. Compiled together, all these topics subsequently became the first-ever "All Math All Girls" camp e-textbook!. The DPLA was a one stop platform that allowed her campers to search, curate, annotate, and publish all in one place.

Carl Sanderson

Scenario summary: TV Sets and Data Sets (Sharing Data)

Carl, a Sociology major at the University of Alaska wants to share the data he gathered while surveying the television watching habits of Alaskans over the course of the changing seasons for his capstone seminar.
He owns a cell phone and uses the computers in the library.


Carl is a data geek; he is aware of the DPLA and the other data sets it makes available. He wants to cross reference his data with some other sets, and he wants other people to do the same thing.


Carl, a sociology major at the University of Alaska, was amazed at the extreme contrast between the winter and summer in Anchorage: three hours of light in one season, and three hours of dark in another. How did this change people's behavior? For his final paper, he decided to collect some data on the TV watching habits of Alaskans during the different periods of the year. He didn't just want to find out if they were watching television more, but also what they chose to view while they were watching. The idea was ambitious and interesting enough that Carl's sociology teacher was able to secure a small grant to help Carl collect some significant data. After a year of monitoring the TV habits of 1000 people from various neighborhoods and socioeconomic backgrounds, Carl had enough data to write his paper. But this alone wasn't fulfilling.

After getting an A on his paper, he was left wondering if all the data gathering was worth the effort. What good was it on its own? Carl thought he had learned some interesting things about Alaskans and wanted to share the data he had gathered. He thought the information might be more meaningful if it could be aggregated and joined with other data sets. Carl picked up his cell phone and dialed his school librarian, Martha, to see if the library would be able to point him in the right direction. "Data sets about TV sets?" The librarian quipped. "I bet the DPLA would be the perfect place for your data. Why don't you come down to the library with your data and we will upload it to the DPLA?" They set up a time to meet the following day.

Martha met Carl for their appointment with a friendly smile. They sat down together at one of the Library computer terminals and accessed the DPLA. Martha showed him not only how to upload his data file to the DPLA, but also how to utilize an app that guided him in using a vocabulary to link to other metadata.

Then, when Carl searched for his own data set, he not only found his data on television-watching habits in Anchorage, but he also found other data sets related to Anchorage and media consumption. And when he selected these other data files, he found he had the ability to download, aggregate, and visualize them. Carl was ecstatic; his data had a home. He thanked Martha for all of her help and headed home for some rest and relaxation in front of the television.

Darla Jefferson

Scenario summary: Sailing Away (Historical Cultural Knowledge)

Darla is in the first year of her Boatbuilding and Restoration program at the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI. She is interested in researching the history of shipbuilding and shaping and the practices of shipwrights in the 18th century.
She has access to a computer during the evenings in her dorm room, but spends much of the day away from any such devices.


After school, Darla wants to move to the caribbean where she will start a business building period-style yachts and doing yacht restoration work.


Darla never loved anything so much as the feel of an old boat out at sea. She was practically raised on the sea. Her parents raced yachts off the Vineyard, and she would spend most of her summer days tying knots, lowering anchor, and ducking boom. But when the races were over and the day was done, she would hang her feet off starboard, peer out over Vineyard Haven's harbor with the sun setting over the up island hills, and pay special attention to those old, beautiful, goliath sea ships—vessels as the Harbor master insisted they be called—that no one raced anymore.

As she grew older, she began to appreciate the shape and craftsmanship of these old sailing vessels—they were ships, but they were also pieces of history and art. She attended a school in Newport RI that would teach her the finer parts of the trade as it was practiced centuries ago. She would spend hours poring over drawings and plans to understand how all parts of the ship were connected.

After school she found work in a local shipyard, building and restoring old ships by day and sailing on weekends. Often her work required her to do research on each piece; one couldn't approach restoration without understanding the history and methods the original builder used to create the ship. For this reason, she often turned to the Newport Historical Society archive, for they had lots of archival material on shipbuilding and shipwright practices. There she could find detailed plans, building methodologies, and accounts of the materials used. In this way, she could use the archive to place the materials in a certain period of time and replicate not only the materials, but also the way these materials were put together.

As her reputation grew as a master of her craft, the projects she was asked to take on were increasingly more exotic and from a wider range of period and geographic origins. The research that was so crucial to her work, however, became increasingly difficult and time consuming. Then the Archivist at the Newport Historical Society introduced her to the DPLA. Accessing the DPLA from a computer in the shipyard office, she found a network of archives covering the range of historical periods and pieces she was now restoring. It was as if she were visiting hundreds of Newport Historical Society sites at once: The histories of tiny port towns and big shipbuilding towns were connected in the DPLA in a way that she had never before experienced.

Curious, she searched for the set of plans she had found so long ago when she first set foot in the Newport Historical Society. She was amazed to find connections to others interested in the same field of restoration and to find links to plans that had influenced the set of plans for which she was digging. The plans she sought, once a rich artifact of memory, were now even richer.

Digital images of the plans could be downloaded and--best of all--printed in large formats. These digital files could be shared through the DPLA app in a similar fashion to a Google document and also shared with colleagues around the world so that the plans could be studied and analyzed. With these tools at her fingertips, she became even more of an authority in her craft and was able to help others interpret historical pieces.

Of course, while the connections Darla made through the DPLA often took place in digital spaces, this was not the only way she was making connections! In the middle of a bleak New England winter, Darla was contacted by a colleague in the Caribbean with an invitation to come work on a boat there. It didn't take long until Darla raised her sails.

Sumit Cherukuri

Scenario summary: Digital Citizenship

In Mountain View California, father Vijay wants his son Sumit to read and learn during his summer vacation from school rather than watch tv and hang out on the corner.
Sumit has a smartphone, iPad, and computer.


Sumit has started finding trouble when he isn't at school. His Dad isn't having that.


It had been almost two weeks since his son Summit had started summer vacation from school, yet every time Vijay headed out the front door of his Mountain View California home, he noticed his son stumbling directly from his bedroom to the television room with a remote control in his hand and an iphone glued to his ears. It was practically routine—sports center and plans to hang out at the mall. These things were done with such perfect, almost artful synchronicity that Vijay became worried that his very talented son was wasting too much time and not learning anything.

This time he couldn't ignore it. He closed the front door, set his messenger bag down in the hall, and approached the family room.

"Summit," Vijay said with a clap of his hands. "What is it with you? Every day with the Sportscenter and the mall and the phone? When am I going to see you do something creative, my man? When are you going to pick up that Ipad I just gave you and use it to learn something cool like all the kids in their commercials?"

Summit smiled, and unconvincingly offered, "I am Dad, no worries! Just easing myself into the summer."

This, of course was not what Vijay had in mind.

"Summit, you can't just slouch around all summer. I want you to learn something new every day and tell me about it. You can use this (and he held up the iPhone) or you can use this (and he help up the iPad) or you can use this (and he held up the laptop sitting on the edge of the couch). But you can't use this—and he pulled the remote from Summit's hands, pointed it at the television and turned it off.

"Okay, okay Dad, but what is it you want me to learn so badly?" Summit asked.

Seeing his son was clearly going to need a push, he had an idea.

"Ok, Summit, I don't know if you have fully explored what these tools you have can really do. Here is what I want you to do. Find me some articles and books and videos and anything else that talks about digital citizenship and people your age with some quality. Find me anything you find important and worth reading and, when I return home tonight, I will sit down and read what it is you put together." He thought it a perfect meta-learning experiment for his son.

"Digital What? Dad, you can't be serious."

"Dead Serious Summit. I want you to understand what these tools can do, and how to use them properly and, more importantly, how they are affecting your life. No, get to it, and I will return home this evening."

Summit was bummed. An afternoon with his friends at the mall thwarted by some strange homework assignment from Dad. Reluctantly, after 15 or 20 minutes of sulking, he pulled the iPad up next to himself and started a search: "Digital Citizenship." He was surprised to find a useful, interesting summary on Wikipedia. To Summit this was kind of a weird topic. He spent so much time on Facebook, following Twitter, or texting on his phone with his friends, that he never really thought about what life was really like without these things. Moreover, he never thought about this idea of free and equal access. The internet was just there for him to use.

He found some links to papers at the bottom of the article and thought, "I can give these to Dad!" But one of the aspects to being a good digital citizen was being able to discern good Websites from bad ones and good information from the other stuff on the Web (that his teachers at school always warned him not to use for his assignments). One of the links brought him to an article on the DPLA.

Summit had heard of this site through his teachers at school. The link brought him to a freely available article about digital citizenship, and there seemed to be so many tools to help find other papers and books. The DPLA site connected this paper to other papers like it, drawing out a timeline as to when the paper was written, what other papers commented on it, and which ones were sourced to write it. There were modules to connect to other kinds of research on digital citizenry—YouTube videos, discussion rooms, and current awareness advisory tools people could use to follow the topic. Along the side of each of these papers were loads of commentary and dialogue--kind of like the comments section he had seen on YouTube, but different in that so many of the comments were offering opinions on the paper and other places.

Summit started to think about the DPLA in the context of being a digital citizen. This was a site seemingly dedicated to meeting the needs of so many—offering equitable access and providing a lot of tools to stay informed and context to help discern the good information from the not so good. There was another tool he found that would help him collect what he found, something his Dad would be happy to see. And what's more, the tool allowed Summit to share his curated list with his dad as it was being created. Unaware that hours had passed, Summit realized he had been browsing and collecting information on digital citizenry. Summit was amazed at how much there was, and he wished he had used the DPLA before school had ended!

When his father returned home, he had already seen the work Summit had done. He had followed along as Summit built the source list and was very impressed with his son's interesting selections.

"Come on Summit—I think I should take you out for dinner. That was some fantastic work you did today!"

"Hey Dad, I am just being a better digital citizen these days!" He joked.

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