Western Carolina University’s digital collections at Hunter Library have been honored with the North Carolina Preservation Consortium’s 2015 Award for Preservation Excellence.

The award recognizes institutions that have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the preservation of heritage. Hunter Library digital collections was selected for preserving the history and culture of the state’s western region.

The consortium is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of collections in libraries, museums, archives and historic sites. The organization is committed to preserving tangible and intangible heritage for present and future generations.

Anna Fariello, WCU associate professor for digital initiatives, said Hunter Library now has 15 collections archived online. These range from small, library-held collections to large partnered collections. The university has made a commitment to maintaining and fostering accessibility, she said.

“We created new positions, like a head of technology, a digital initiatives librarian, and several digital production technicians,” Fariello said. “Hunter Library has gone from case-by-case digital projects to a truly sustainable digital preservation program. These collections support education and humanities programs, as well as student, personal and professional research. These holdings are a regional resource and source of pride.”

One collection, “Great Smoky Mountains: A Park for America,” is gaining prominence as the National Park Service begins its centennial year and highlights the importance of partnerships. The WCU collection features maps, documents and photographs from the archives of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina’s Western Regional Archives and Hunter Library’s special collections. The project is supported by grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the State Library of North Carolina.

“The partnership established by the library with both the National Park Service and the State Archives of North Carolina has now opened up research to thousands of previously locked away images and created digital preservation and access that would have never happened otherwise,” said Heather South, representative of the Western Regional Archives. “For us, the project has opened up our collections to a wider audience as well as provided us with much needed preservation scanning of records and images that we just were unable to do on our own.”

To access Hunter Library’s digital collections, go to digitalcollections.wcu.edu. For more information, contact Liz Skene at 828-227-2674 or Fariello at 828-227-2499 or fariello@wcu.edu.