DPLA Membership IDEAS Statement


The DPLA Network Council statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access, and Social Justice (IDEAS) is the first action in a series of priorities identified by and approved by the DPLA Network and Advisory Councils in summer 2019. DPLA aggregates archival content from cultural heritage institutions across the United States. With a membership that represents a broad (but not broad enough) diversity of institutions and a growing collection of over 37 million items, we are in a unique position to see and reflect on the historical homogeneity of our collections, and to recognize and act on the need for diversity, representativeness, and respect in how we conduct the work of documenting and providing access to our shared history. This statement is a first step toward these larger goals and frames our collective commitment to an authentic reckoning with our past and an active stance toward doing better for the future. 

To address the components most relevant to DPLA members, the statement addresses our collections, our membership, and our intent with regard to participation. Regarding the latter, by doing no harm, we are resolving to participate in DPLA in good faith with respect for our content, our members, our users, and our shared history.

Diversity of materials, content, and collections

In order to address gaps in collections, we will actively identify, incorporate, and preserve the collections of  communities that have been historically marginalized and overlooked. We will also assess our existing collections and our metadata and cataloguing standards to ensure that they reflect and convey the diversity and context of our collections, and accurately and respectfully represent historically misrepresented and underrepresented cultures, socio-economic groups, and races. 

Diversity of members

In order to nurture a diverse, inclusive, and representative community that is actively engaged in contributing to our shared history, we commit to sustaining existing partnerships as well as seeking out new partnerships and collaborations. In order to ensure successful collaborations and fair representation we commit to listening to and involving all the voices that make up our shared history and working with all partners in a spirit of humility and respect.

Do not harm (acting in good faith)

In order to do no harm, we commit to dismantling the legacy of white supremacy in cultural heritage institutions which have pushed the histories of underrepresented groups further into the margins creating an unbalanced view of the past and weaponizing the narratives of those in power, specifically those of the upper-class, white population, to be authoritative. Records of this country’s rich diversity are central to the users of our institutions, no matter their location or mission statement. This furthers DPLA’s own mission statement of “empowers people to learn, grow, and contribute to a diverse and better-functioning society”.

To accurately reflect history and repair the inequity in our historical record based on traditional collecting policies, we resolve to respect the authority of the communities of origin. This includes cultivating authentic reciprocal relationships centered in decisions about preservation, access, and repatriation. In addition, we will strive to provide our staff with professional development opportunities to adopt in house policies that aid in the decolonization of description, access, and instruction about these materials. 

Further Reading/Resources