What are the OAC and Calisphere?

The Online Archive of California (OAC) and Calisphere are two free statewide services designed to help California institutions expand online access to their collections. The OAC provides aggregated access to finding aids and other types of collection-level descriptive records (that is, information about holdings that users can explore in-person); Calisphere provides aggregated access to digital content. We send all data in Calisphere up to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)—meaning you'll contribute to both the statewide and the national aggregations at the same time.

Hundreds of institutions across the state contribute to one or both sites.

Who can contribute?

If you’re a library, archive, museum, historical society, or other cultural heritage organization located in California, you can contribute to the OAC and Calisphere. Both services are optimized for unique materials like records, manuscripts, artifacts, data sets, and other primary sources. These materials can be on any subject and from any era.

Technical skills are not required to work with us. Whether you’ve got a staff of a hundred or of one, whether you’ve got a full-blown digital program or you’ve never used a scanner… we can help!

For more information about membership eligibility and contributor responsibilities, please see our Calisphere and OAC Contributing Member Service Policy.

Why contribute?

  • Raise the online profile of your institution
  • Make your collections more discoverable through sites optimized for search engines
  • Help your users see your collections in the context of a larger aggregation
  • Take advantage of free tools and expertise to build up your digital capacity
  • Expand your grant opportunities

How much does it cost?

Nada. Zero. Zilch. The OAC and Calisphere are free services of the University of California.

Now, it will take some resources on your part to describe and digitize your collections. But aggregating and promoting your collections through our services is 100% free.

Ready, set, go!

Ready to sign up? Complete our one-time Contributing Member Application Form.

Once we receive your application, we'll contact you to provide an overview of our services and discuss strategies for getting started. 

Last -- and to wrap-up the process -- we'll need to obtain a completed Terms of Service [PDF] agreement. We'll send over a pre-filled version of the agreement, for you to complete and return back to us in PDF format. The agreement will need to be completed by a representative who is authorized to sign for your library, archive, or museum.

Have additional questions?

We are standing by every first Wednesday at 1:00pm to chat with anyone who wants to get to know us. We’ll provide overviews of Calisphere and OAC, share resources available to contributors, and info on how to get started. This overview session welcomes prospective contributing organizations interested in participating in OAC and Calisphere. New staff, interns, volunteers, and student assistants from current partner organizations are also welcome to attend. Learn more about our upcoming overview sessions.

Feel free to also contact us if you have any questions.