Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library is recipient of two grants totaling $131,337 that will aid in the funding of two separate projects.
The library was awarded a $48,524 Literacy and Lifelong Learning grant that will be used to fund a digital scholarship lab. It also will receive an $84,813 digitization grant as part of the third and final year of funding to support “Great Smoky Mountains: A Park for America.” Both grants were funded through the federal Library Services Technology Act and administered through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and State Library of North Carolina.
The library is collaborating with WCU’s Division of Information Technology to create the digital scholarship lab, which will be in the Technology Commons, said Mark Stoffan, head of digital, access and technology services at Hunter Library. The lab will feature computers equipped with software for working with audio and video files, scanning stations for transferring content to digital formats, and a 3D printer that will allow students to maximize their ability to be creative.
“The primary goal of the project is to enhance students’ digital literacy and critical thinking skills,” Stoffan said. “By encouraging creativity and collaboration among students, librarians, and IT staff, the project will foster lifelong learning and creativity. The emphasis on skills development will benefit library programs and services, as well as enhance the library’s role as a campus leader in teaching and learning.”
The digitization grant is part of $250,000 of funding used for a three-year project aimed at building a digital archive of 7,000 items related to the development of the park, which was established in 1934 and is the most visited national park in the U.S. The project – which includes historic photographs, administrative documents and reports, correspondence, promotional brochures and maps – is a partnership between the library, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and North Carolina’s Western Regional Archives.
The project is spearheaded by Anna Fariello, associate professor of research at Hunter Library, who wanted to develop a collection focused on the park’s history. “The story of the park’s creation is a fascinating mix of politics, a concern for conservation, and tourism development,” Fariello said.
The archives are accessible from the library’s digital collections webpage at digitalcollections.wcu.edu, and typically appear in search engines such as Google.