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NEH Grants Relating to Digital Preservation

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The following is a guest post by Barrie Howard, Program Management Coordinator, NDIIPP.

In my work at NDIIPP I’ve been looking at U.S. government grant programs that have funded digital preservation since 2000. I discovered that funding has been sourced primarily from the Library of Congress and four other agencies: the Institute of Museum and Library Services ; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, an entity affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration; and the National Science Foundation.

National Endowment for the Humanities

While the original NDIIPP Congressional authorization presents a special case, much Federal financial support for digital preservation is provided through annual appropriations bills. Highlighting the contributions of these other agencies, today’s post focuses on NEH, and some of the projects it has funded over the years.

For nearly a decade, NEH has contributed over $3.5 million in support to a dozen projects to develop best practices, infrastructure, tools and training workshops under the Preservation and Access program. The program currently has seven categories of granting activities that help achieve its goals to (a) provide leadership and (b) support a national effort to preserve and make accessible cultural resources for research, education and the general public good. NEH grants focused on digital preservation have typically been organized under two categories, i.e., education and training, and research and development. Some exemplary projects include:

  • Cornell University’s Digital Preservation Management training project, supported by two grants from 2002 through 2007, resulted in an online tutorial covering the basics of digital preservation plus a series of one-week workshops for advanced training in the preservation of digital materials in cultural institutions. The project was very successful, and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research expanded the initial work and, with continued support from NEH, took over stewardship of the ongoing development and maintenance of the tutorial and development and organization of the workshop series .
  • Indiana University, Bloomington’s and Harvard University’s Sound Directions: Digital Preservation and Access for Global Audio Heritage collaborative project, supported by two grants from 2005 through 2009, resulted in the development of best practices guidelines for the digital reformatting of analog sound recordings and the investigation and testing of a distributed preservation framework. Another significant deliverable of the project is a suite of many open-source software tools for streamlining the processing workflow associated with preserving digital audio collections, including creating preservation metadata .
  • A collaborative project between ITHAKA/Portico and Cornell University, Protecting Future Access Now for the development of a preservation service prototype for the preservation of digitized books. The collaborative dimensions of this project stretch beyond the partnership of the awardees, and it’s worth mentioning that NEH joined forces with the IMLS to support the work through the Advancing Knowledge: The IMLS/NEH Digital Partnership program. Protecting Future Access was one of four projects supported by the IMLS/NEH partnership, and both agencies have continued to fund projects through partnerships with other funders, including domestic and international government agencies and non-profit organizations.

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