API Codex

Welcome to the DPLA API Codex! This is where you can find authoritative documentation for the DPLA API and resources you can use to make the most of it. We’re happy to have you. (Wondering why we built an API in the first place? Check out our philosophy.)

What now?

  • If you’ve never played (or worked) with an API before, head on over to API Basics. We’ll get you started accessing some of our data.
  • If you’re already familiar with APIs in general and you just want to know how to get at our data, skip the basics and dive right into requests (Make sure you get an API key first.)
  • Once you’ve got some shiny new JSON-LD, how can you tell what it all means? In responses, we explore the structure of objects and define the fields within those objects that the API will return.
  • Ready to start building something against our API, but want to know how we operate? We’ve got you. Check out our policies.
  • Uh oh. You’re lost. We’re lost. Everything’s broken. I’m confused. Time to check out our troubleshooting and FAQ page!
  • Confused by the terminology we’re using? Check out the glossary of terms.
  • Did we miss/break/overlook/forget something? Tell us.

The essentials

Need to start right now? Here’s a cheat sheet.

  • https://api.dp.la/v2 is the base URL of the DPLA API.
  • items and collections are the two resource types you can request.
  • In order to pass requests to the API, you’ll need to request an API key first. You also need to append &api_key=$YOUR_KEY (where $YOUR_KEY is your 32-character key) to any requests you make.
  • All records are returned as structured, wonderful, JSON-LD objects. And we have reasons for that.
  • We’ve got a boatload of fields you can query, and a whole bunch of ways you can query them.
  • Dive head first into a bucket full of kitten metadata: https://api.dp.la/v2/items?q=kittens&api_key=. (Copy and paste the URL into your browser and add your API key on the end.)