College of Charleston launches digital library

Image by Flickr user Micah A. PonceImage by 20090702-cofc.jpg

The College of Charleston announced the launch of the Lowcountry Digital Library today, July 2nd.

The digital library has a wealth of local and non-local items. But to get started, I suggest checking out the "South Carolina Inter-State and West Indian Exposition, 1901-1902" exhibit, particularly the pamphlet. If you're unfamiliar with exhibit, here's the Wikipedia article.

But, here's all about the project, from a press release:

The LCDL is a collaborative effort to build a digital (online) library with more than 50,000 items drawn from public and private archives in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. The LCDL will make unique and often rare items more broadly available for free to anyone in the world. Other partners on this project are the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), The Citadel, the Gibbes Museum of Art, the Historic Charleston Foundation, Beaufort County Library and the Charleston County Public Library.

“This is an important and ambitious project that allows for the sharing of priceless historical documents through the use of cutting-edge technology,” College of Charleston President P. George Benson said. “I’m pleased that the College of Charleston is spearheading this effort. This project demonstrates how public-private partnerships can produce high quality work that furthers scholarly research and inspires innovation. Collaborations that tap a broad base of support and expertise help public higher education operate more efficiently and reach larger audiences.”

A $305,000 grant from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation will enable the LCDL to grow from its current 7,000 images to 50,000 over the next three years. One full-time project coordinator and two part-time scanning technicians will be added to the project to facilitate the process. All of the items in the LCDL are either about or housed in the Lowcountry.

“It can take lifetimes to digitize collections,” said John White, project director. “Some documents that are handwritten or in another language can take up to a year to transcribe. Then the documents still need to be scanned and catalogued. Until now, we haven’t had the resources to dedicate to these historically relevant and interesting documents.”

“A digital library is absolutely essential for the Lowcountry,” said Jennifer Welch, assistant project director. “A digital library makes fragile or original documents more widely available and opens the door for research scholars to view materials to which they wouldn’t have had access. Users will be able to find documents without traveling between several locations within the Lowcountry.”

The technology used by LCDL is some of the best in the world. Documents are easily searchable, are available in high resolution and are transcribed for easy use.

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