On Monday, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced their funding to the tune of more than $17 million for their National Leadership Grants. The funded projects represent a great diversity, but some are particularly relevant to those of us interested in genealogy & historical research. Some of the projects funded include:
- Denver Public Library – “Creating Your Community: Empowering Individuals and Safeguarding Communal Heritage Through Digital Community Archiving” — The Denver Public Library will collaborate with multiple partners including the Colorado Historical Society, Historic Denver, Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, Aurora History Museum, Four Mile Historic Park, Lakewood Heritage Center, Colorado Genealogy Society, Auraria Library and Center for Colorado & the West, Douglas County Libraries, and the Inscribe/Zion Baptist Church. This pilot project will create an online community archive and preservation education project for the public. Together, these efforts will provide both training and technical infrastructure to assist local communities in digitally preserving and sharing important personal artifacts. The developed digital archive will include Web-based upload capabilities, a social networking environment for community members to exchange information, and services to help ensure that community memory is preserved.
- Center for Research Libraries — “ICON Global Newspaper Directory to enhance collection assessment” — The Center for Research Libraries will partner with the American Antiquarian Society to jointly assemble a comprehensive directory of newspapers published globally from the seventeenth to the twenty-first century. This directory will integrate information on newspapers published in the United States and abroad, supplemented with valuable details on where titles are held in print, microfilm, and digital format. The database will contain more than 200,000 bibliographic entries searchable through a single unified directory. The objective of this activity is to provide libraries and researchers with an authoritative tool that may be used for resource discovery, collection development and analysis, content verification and comparison, and preservation assessment.
- Pennsylvania Heritage Society — “Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show: New Audiences Through Collaboration” — The Pennsylvania Heritage Society and its partners the State Library of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will produce innovative programming through a Pennsylvania Civil War Road Show. This project will use the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War as a catalyst to engage new and underserved public audiences, and to involve local communities in dialogue that links the historical context for issues of race, equality, and freedom with these issues today. A mobile traveling exhibition experience, the Road Show will reach its audiences throughout the state with a combination of exhibitions, dynamic community programming, a collaborative and interactive Web site, and a complementary project of collecting digital artifacts and brief oral history recordings from attendees. The project will also reap long-term benefits from new collaborative relationships, increased visibility, new and expanded audiences, and enhanced Web site and digital connections.
- Clemson University – “The Open Parks Grid: the Gateway to Parks Information” — Clemson University will partner with Purdue University, the National Parks Service-Southeast Region, South Carolina State Parks, Georgia State Parks, and North Carolina State Parks to build an online research repository of park-related publications, including the National Parks Service directors’ papers, housed at Clemson University’s Special Collections and to be digitized as part of the project. The repository will be built using multiple open-source components, and will feature a collaborative workspace for park professionals, enthusiasts, and scholars. This repository and the shared workspace will virtually unite the highly distributed parks community of practitioners, academics, policy makers, and citizens with the highly distributed parks-related information created and collected by government agencies, research labs, universities, libraries, and other organizations.
- Rhodes College — “Memphis Coalition for Cultural Heritage” — Rhodes College, the Memphis Public Library, the National Civil Rights Museum, and other community partners in Memphis will create the Memphis Coalition for Cultural Heritage (MCCH) and the Memphis Preservation Corps. MCCH will constitute an organizational framework that will address the need to build capacity for preservation and access to significant primary resources about the history of our community. While building capacity for cultural heritage organizations, the project will also engage communities in preserving and telling the stories of their neighborhoods, as part of a dialogue to address past and present social inequities and their impact on Memphis and the Mid-South. The project will also serve as a national model for cultural heritage organizations to work together to involve community members directly in preservation, access, and education activities.
- George Mason University — “Omeka Commons: Preserving and Sharing Our Dispersed Digital Commonwealth” — Building on the success of its open source Omeka Web publishing software, the Center for History and New Media (CHNM) at George Mason University will pilot test a new Omeka Commons. This centralized repository service will be designed to meet the needs of smaller cultural heritage and scholarship organizations that often have difficulty creating, delivering, and sustaining online digital collections. In this two-year pilot, the Commons will offer hosting and content backup services for a small test group of organizations, as well as a framework for online users to discover, use, and link to hosted digital collections and objects. CHNM will work with legal and technical advisors to evaluate metadata and licensing schema for the repository, and will produce a white paper with recommendations to guide future work.
More information about the grants can be found in the official IMLS press release. These are all interesting projects – how great for our collective history.