COMMERCE, Texas – Four public libraries and an historical society in the northeast region of the state will receive the expertise of Texas A&M University-Commerce in preserving their local history collections.
The assistance is made possible thanks to a $74,000 grant to A&M-Commerce’s Gee Library from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Participating in the grant are Bonham Public Library, Walworth Harrison Library in Greenville, and two other public libraries and an historical society yet to be selected.
“We are very excited about this grant and most grateful to the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services for funding and the Texas State Library and Archives Commission for sharing in our vision,” Gee Library Director Greg Mitchell said.
“Our work with local public libraries, museums, and historical societies is a win-win situation,” Mitchell said. “They can benefit from our expertise, training, and technology, while we gain access to previously untapped history resources that we can share with a worldwide community of researchers through our digital capabilities,” he said.
Staffers with the public libraries will work with the Special Collections Department at Gee Library to preserve their local history collections by digitizing them and making them available on computer.
A master of library science intern from Texas Woman’s University has been hired to train the public library staffs and assist them with digitizing the material, said Dr. Jim Conrad, head of Gee Library Special Collections and university archivist. An assistant cataloguer has also been hired to format and catalog the digitized materials and put the images into the A&M-Commerce digitized library, Conrad said.
Libraries have been involved in using digital information for years, Mitchell said. A&M-Commerce has been accessing this information for about 20 years and has been a provider of original digital information for about two years. Gee Library unveiled its collection of digital information on World War II veterans in the region on Veterans’ Day 2007.
“One of the purposes of the grant is to see how effective this strategy of working with public libraries is,” Conrad said. “If this is successful, it may serve as a role model for other projects,” he said.
The grant, which lasts a year and may be renewed for two more years, is significant because there is much less funding in the humanities than in the sciences nationally, according to Dr. Deborah Porter, director of Grants and Contracts, A&M-Commerce Office of Graduate Studies and Research.