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NEH and IMLS Award Advancing Knowledge Digital Partnership Grants

$884,491 in Funding Supports Digital Innovation Through Collaborative Humanities Projects

WASHINGTON (August 26, 2008)—Today the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced grant awards to four institutions through the Advancing Knowledge: The IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership grant program, a funding opportunity that encourages digital innovation by bringing humanities scholars together with museum, library, archives, and IT professionals. The Alexandria Archive Institute (San Francisco, Calif.); the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (Alexandria, Va.); the City of Philadelphia, Department of Records (Philadelphia, Pa.); and Ithaka Harbors, Inc./Portico (New York, N.Y.) will receive a combined total of $884,491 to support collaborative humanities projects.

Created in 2006, Advancing Knowledge: The IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership facilitates collaborations between libraries, museums, archives, universities, and other cultural organizations for projects using the latest digital technologies that will aid in the discovery and dissemination of new knowledge about our past and our culture. The partnership supports projects that explore new ways to share, examine, and interpret humanities collections in a digital environment and to develop new uses and audiences for existing digital resources.

“The NEH is committed to promoting the use of advanced technology to enhance humanities scholarship,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole. “We recognize the opportunities available to humanities scholars in the age of Web 2.0, and through programs such as our Advancing Knowledge partnership with IMLS, we are able to encourage and support projects that develop new digital tools and take advantage of existing resources.”

Advancing Knowledge is a great collaborative effort between IMLS and the NEH,” said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services. “The project pairs scholars with librarians and museum professionals to build resources and tools that enhance and develop innovative scholarship in the 21st century.”

The grants announced today are:

  • $250,609 to the Alexandria Archive Institute for its project, Enhancing Humanities Research Productivity in a Collaborative Data Sharing Environment. The Alexandria Archive Institute, in collaboration with the UC Berkeley School of Information, will create best-practice guidelines for the development of humanities data-sharing software to meet user needs, as well as continue to develop Open Context, a collaborative, free, open-access resource to facilitate online sharing of archaeological field research among excavators, scholars, and cultural heritage institutions.
  • $175,000 to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) for its project, AIHEC American Indian Collections Portal. AIHEC, using resources from the Autry National Center/Southwest Museum of the American Indian, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Anthropological Archives, and the National Museum of Natural History, will federate databases focused on Native American collections and share the data in new ways with tribal colleges and community members.
  • $108,882 to the City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, for its project, A Partnership to Increase Access to Our Nation’s Historical Records. The City of Philadelphia, Department of Records, in collaboration with the Free Library of Philadelphia, will develop an enhanced Web site (www.PhillyHistory.org) featuring historically significant collections at the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Records and the Free Library of Philadelphia, and will create tools to increase the level of access to and usefulness of these collections for researchers, students, and members of the general public.
  • $350,000 to Ithaka Harbors, Inc./Portico for its project, Protecting Future Access Now: Developing a Prototype Preservation Model for Digital Books. Portico, in collaboration with Cornell University Library, will develop a prototype preservation service that will provide a practical model for the preservation of digitized books. They will analyze electronic book data, identify a technological infrastructure to preserve electronic books, assess preservation costs and recovery options, create sample service-level agreements, and share the full preservation model with the cultural heritage community.

The Advancing Knowledge program was inaugurated in 2006 as a key component of the NEH’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHI), an effort to encourage and support projects that utilize or study the impact of digital technology on research, education, preservation, and public programming in the humanities. Earlier this year, the formation of the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) was announced, making the initiative permanent as an office within the NEH. Currently, the Advancing Knowledge program is administered by the Division of Preservation and Access in cooperation with ODH.

The Advancing Knowledge program is a key component of IMLS’s extensive work in digitization. This work has made possible the digitization of millions of artifacts and documents; the annual WebWise Conference, a convening of representatives of museums, libraries, archives, systems science, education, and other fields interested in the future of high quality online content for inquiry and learning; statewide digitization efforts; and research on the public use of information technology such as social tagging, blogs, iPod downloads, and text messaging.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute helps create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. It works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to enhance learning and innovation; sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; and support professional development. For more information about the Institute of Museum and Library Services, please see www.imls.gov.

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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