Harvard University Launches Major Effort to Help HBCUs Digitize Their Library Collections

The HBCU Library Alliance and Harvard Library announced a project to sustain and deepen capacity for the digitization, discovery, and preservation of African American history collections held in HBCU libraries and archives across the country. The four-year, $6 million project aims to develop strategies and methods for HBCU libraries and archives to scale up the processing and digitization of their collections.

Sandra Phoenix, executive director of the HBCU Library Alliance said that the collaboration with Harvard will provide an opportunity to “share HBCU stories, complete the historical record, augment American history, and create new scholarship to make these very valuable stories known to a broader public. HBCU libraries and archives connect us to those wonderful ancestral stories; they authenticate American history. Our historical legacy is stored in these significant institutions. We want to make sure we leave no story behind as we do this work and create this narrative about HBCU collections and the power of those amazing stories.”

“HBCU libraries have deep connections to African American history and expertise in records that are incredibly important,” said Martha Whitehead, vice president for the Harvard Library and University Librarian. “This partnership will open and preserve access to many significant research collections held in HBCU libraries while ensuring they retain ownership of the collections. Students, scholars, and researchers around the world will benefit from the preservation and digitization of these materials. Harvard Library aspires to expand world knowledge and intellectual exploration, and we’re grateful that we can partner with the HBCU Library Alliance as they share and preserve their cultural resources and research.”

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