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Celebrating Transatlantic Collaboration on Digitization

NEH and JISC working together to digitize scholarly resources

WASHINGTON (January 23, 2008)—The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) celebrated transatlantic collaboration in the field of digitization on January 21 at an event at King's College London.

The event marked a further stage in a collaboration between the two organizations that began formally with a joint call for proposals in November. The call invited scholars in the United States and England to collaborate over digitization proposals. The aim of the $730,000 (£360,000) program is to unite scholarly collections split between the two countries, explore innovative approaches to digitization, and match expertise in one country with collections to be digitized in the other.

NEH Chairman Bruce Cole led a delegation to the U.K. this week to explore international approaches to the digitization of scholarly resources and to take forward the collaborative program with JISC. The joint JISC/NEH program is funding Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grants, which will be awarded to one-to-one partnerships in the U.S. and England, with the possibility that these grants will provide the foundation for larger-scale partnerships in the future.

The grants are part of the wider International Partnership of Research Excellence (IPRE), an initiative instigated by the late Professor Sir Gareth Roberts of the University of Oxford. The second strand of the initiative recommends undertaking collaborative digitization initiatives, of which these grants will be a part.

“The NEH has long recognized that the humanities are a global endeavor—and this is especially true in the burgeoning new field of the digital humanities. By partnering with our colleagues at the Joint Information Systems Committee, together we will begin to build a 'virtual bridge' across the Atlantic through our support of projects that use digital technology to unify collections of artifacts, documents, manuscripts, and other cultural materials,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole.

“This is a particularly exciting and important program which has already generated a great deal of interest from scholarly communities on both sides of the Atlantic. We look forward to taking forward new funded projects which we hope will demonstrate innovative ways of working between the two countries,” said Dr. Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary.

Dr. Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary, welcomed the delegation during the event, and also speaking was Robert K. Englund, Professor of Assyriology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Director of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative. A report on the event will be distributed later this week.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is a joint committee of the U.K. further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources. Information about JISC, its services, and programs can be found at www.jisc.ac.uk/, or contact Philip Pothen at p.pothen@jisc.ac.uk.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Office of Communications at (202) 606-8446 or info@neh.gov