Not all gifs, the popular animated image format, come from pop culture or YouTube. from old archival videos, and can help bring history to life on the internet. This summer, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), in partnership with Imgur, is rolling out the Summer of Archives, a collection of historical pictures and moving images repurposed for the digital world.
“There are a lot of opportunities for historical footage to be relevant to people through the gif and modern implications of technology,” says Kenny Whitebloom of the DPLA. “These sort of films aren’t on the forefront of the average internet users daily browsing habits, and yet there are stories in them that are interesting things that are actually quite relevant and cool.”
The concept of a national digital library had been discussed since the 1990s, but it truly came to fruition after a 2010 meeting of 40 leaders from libraries, technology projects and academia, who decided that it was time for the United States to create “an open, distributed network of comprehensive online resources that would draw on the nation’s living heritage from libraries, universities, archives, and museums in order to educate, inform, and empower everyone in current and future generations.” Since its launch in April of 2013, the DPLA has amassed an open collection of more than 7 million items, which users can search through a digital catalog available to all internet users. It also functions as a platform for digital innovation, encouraging users to take advantage of its various digital programming platforms and interfaces to expand and create innovative digital technology. Lastly, the DPLA functions as a sort of advocacy foundation, working to keep digital information as widely accessible as possible.