The National Archives announced today that it will help launch the first pilot project of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The DPLA is a large-scale, collaborative project across government, research institutions, museums, libraries, and archives to build a digital library platform to make America’s cultural and scientific history free and publicly available anytime, anywhere, online through a single access point.

The DPLA is working with several large digital content providers – including the National Archives and Harvard University – to share digitized content from their online catalogs for the project’s two-year Digital Hubs Pilot Project. This pilot project is scheduled to launch on April 18-19, 2013 at the Boston Public Library.

The DPLA will include 1.2 million digital copies from the National Archives catalog, including our nation’s founding documents, photos from the Documerica Photography Project of the 1970’s, World War II posters, Mathew Brady Civil War photographs, and documents that define human and civil rights.

The United States has no national digital library, but over forty state digital projects and numerous large content repositories currently operate in the country. With the Hubs Pilot, the DPLA will undertake the first effort to establish a national network out of these and other promising initiatives, bringing together myriad digitized content from across the country into a single access point for end users. The approach is to work with five to seven states or regions (Service Hubs) and an equal number of content providers (Content Hubs) to aggregate content on a pilot basis. Our goal is to demonstrate how we, on behalf of the American people, can make vastly more of a whole from the sum of the parts of our nation’s digitization efforts.

Genealogists should keep a close watch on this as the project expands beyond the pilot and new digital content is delivered that can help family research.