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Ohio Five schools awarded generous grant

The Five Colleges of Ohio received a two-year, $600,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to digitize curricular resources.

Wooster, along with Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College and Ohio Wesleyan University, was graciously awarded the ìNext Steps in the Next-Generation Library: Integrating Digital Collections into the Liberal Arts Curriculum” from the Mellon foundation.

Director of Libraries Mark Christel, the director of the grant, expressed his excitement over the foundationís contribution.† ìThe library sees this as a chance to push our digital collections to the next level,” he said.

Christel noted digital collections are already in use by other major liberal arts institutions, such as Carleton College (Minnesota), Claremont College (California) and Vassar College (New York).† ìSome other college libraries have built digital collections that include faculty publications, student research projects or digital videos.”

The five institutions will utilize some of the funding to hire a digital specialist to help build databases and provide advanced training to library staff.† Faculty at the institutions will have the opportunity to apply for stipends through the program to create a digital project.† The most promising proposals will partner with the libraries to receive funding and technical support for the projects.

Christel indicated a range of possibilities to incorporate digital resources into Woosterís curriculum, but emphasized the projects funded ultimately depended on ìfaculty interests” and materials available to be digitized.

Christel emphasized the Mellon Foundation grant supports Woosterís curriculum and holds an array of learning opportunities for students.† For example, digitized collections can be viewed in any location with Internet access, which makes resources accessible to students outside of the classroom.† Furthermore, students may be involved in the faculty digitization projects.† Christel hopes students will have the opportunity to be involved with ìwriting content and selecting materials to be added to online collections” as part of their curriculum.

Student research and classroom projects, such as exemplary Independent Study projects and student-produced media, could be permanently housed in the digital collection, effectively creating a permanent record.† Christel also noted other institutions used digital media to archive publications, such as copies of student newspapers, photos and magazines.† The grant money may also possibly fund the digitization of some Special Collections materials.

Christel is currently forming a committee to read faculty proposals and decide which projects merit grant money this summer.† He states that the campus community could begin utilizing the digital database as soon as fall of 2010 as faculty projects begin.† ìWe will be working around faculty and class schedules, but we hope to begin production for some of the collections as early as this summer,” states Christel.

The Mellon Foundation, a New York-based non-profit organization, offers grants to higher education and other public service institutions, such as museums and performing arts ventures, to ìbuild, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities.”

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