A substantial portion of the nation’s cultural heritage and intellectual legacy is held in libraries, archives, and museums. These repositories are responsible for preserving and making available collections of books, serials, manuscripts, sound recordings, still and moving images, works of art, objects of material culture, and rapidly expanding digital collections. The challenge is great: to preserve diverse formats of materials that are threatened by factors inherent in their physical structures or by the environments in which they are housed, and to create a level of intellectual control sufficient to enable users to find and use the materials relevant to them. Increasingly, these humanities collections are being used to create the kind of Web-based resources that NEH supports, such as encyclopedias, dictionaries, descriptive catalogs, and digital archives. Both the creators and users of these resources also need our support to develop digital tools to enhance access to and promote integration of these materials.
The division’s grant programs recognize that good stewardship of cultural resources requires equal attention to both preservation and access. All of the division’s programs focus on ensuring the long-term and wide availability of primary resources in the humanities. In this sense, research, education, and appreciation of the humanities depend on the foundational work of the Division of Preservation and Access in preserving cultural heritage materials and making them available to scholars, teachers, and the general public.