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Indepth Arts News:

"Library of American Museum of Natural History Awarded $2 Million Grant"
1999-07-30 until 1999-07-30
American Museum of Natural History
New York, NY, USA United States of America

THE LIBRARY OF THE AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY IS AWARDED A $2 MILLION ANDREW W. MELLON FOUNDATION GRANT FOR DIGITIZING UNIQUE HOLDINGS WITHIN THE LIBRARY AND MUSEUM Goal is to Provide Database for Access on the World Wide Web 18-Month Pilot Study to be Followed by Expanded Five-Year Plan. The American Museum of Natural History announced today that the Museums Library has been awarded a $2 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant to digitize materials from the Museumís 440,000-volume collection, one of the largest natural-history libraries in the Western Hemisphere. Among the treasures housed in the Museum Library are rare and unique books and manuscripts spanning 500 years of scientific and expedition literature. In addition, the Mellon digitization project also will include scientific material from the Museums total collections of some 32 million Museum specimens and cultural artifacts for access on the World Wide Web. When fully developed, the Museums new digital library will yield for the first time an integrated database of Museum Library resources and natural history collections enabling scientists, scholars, and the public to study unique and rare research materials at one web site.

The Museums digitization project is another exciting example of cutting edge technology providing immediate access to the Museumís unique assets to an expanding global audience said Museum President Ellen V. Futter. The collections of the Museum Library, like our collections of specimens and cultural artifacts, represent the results of more than 130 years of Museum expeditions to the farthest reaches of the globe. Now, access to these resources extends as far as those earlier expeditions. The focus of the initial 18-month pilot program that begins in July, will be the Lang-Chapin Expedition (1909-1915) to what was then the Belgian Congo, to make the first comprehensive biological survey of the area. A five-year program to expand this initial prototype will follow the pilot study. The goal of the project is to provide the opportunity to study a range of published and primary source material all by visiting a single web site. This will extend to scientists and scholars working at remote locations, often without access to libraries, important materials that would otherwise be available only at the Museum. Digitization of our collections will be a powerful resource for our scientists and the general public, said Mike Novacek, Provost of the Museum. The Museum is committed to using the most sophisticated technology in our efforts to share our vast stores of valuable scientific and natural history materials. Mammalogist Herbert Lang and ornithologist James P. Chapin gathered an amazing collection of material from their expedition one of the most important in the Museums history, said Director of the Library, Tom Moritz. We picked this project to digitize first, because it is one of the pre-eminent expedition collections in the world: an immense archive of thousands of specimens and artifacts, photographs and slides, drawings and maps, watercolor sketches, handwritten field notes and correspondence, and even wax recordings. As part of the project we also hope to eventually develop CD ROMs and to provide texts in other languages. The Museum Library will focus on three important groups of digital library users: scientists, and students at universities and other research institutions both in the U.S. and abroad; scientists in developing countries who lack access to adequate libraries and have limited resources, and finally, a broader audience of educators, students, and members of the public. Press Contact: Steve Reichl, Senior Publicist 212-496-3411 / Fax 212-769-5006 e-mail: sreichl@amnh.org

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