DLF/DCC and Searching for Leaves of Grass

In imagining a digital public library for students in grades K through 12, which was identified at the plenary as key audience for DPLA, an important set of content would be American Literature.  (The Library of America publishing project, underwritten by the National Foundation for the Humanities, suggests a great starting point for building this part of the collection.)

With this in mind, I went back to the DLF/DCC beta, looking for poems by Walt Whitman.  I typed Leaves of Grass into the search field on the homepage.  The search returned 125 items, including a photo of a “sacred monkey and her baby on a trail sitting on top of fallen bamboo shoots, ca. 1940”  which is part of the California Historical Society Digital Archive ( According to the description of the photo, the monkeys were sitting on grass beside a pile of leaves.) Opps! Operator error –  I realized that I needed to limit my search – I needed to search for Leaves AND of AND Grass.  Searching for “Leaves of Grass” pulled up seven items – including a recording of an Allan Ginsburg lecture on Whitman (wicked cool!).

I found a full text copy of Leaves of Grass in a secondary source. The Hathi Trust Digital Library holds several early editions.  Again, wicked cool results, though there were several snags along the way.  Which brings us back to the K thru 12 grader – DPLA navigation skills will need to be part of bibliographic instruction for students.  And teachers will need instruction on how to use DPLA as part of their curricula (which may involve some heavy lifting.)

The secondary sources that the DLF/DCC link to raise some questions.  Two of the six secondary sources in this beta require paid subscriptions to access content.  Two of those sources (America: History & Life, and Academic Search Premier) are Ebsco products;  Elsevier produces Scopus.  Ebsco and Elsevier are commercial enterprises.  Jstor is academic non-profit.  It is entirely possible that being a secondary source in the DPLA would be an important competitive advantage.  What will be the criteria for selecting secondary sources? How will DPLA interact with movement towards Open Access?

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