Tuesday, November 9, 1999
John Ober (510) 987-0425



The California Digital Library has received $1.5 million from three federal programs to support the ongoing construction of a major digital collection of photographs, manuscripts, organizational records and other significant materials from organizations in California that contribute to the rich history of the Golden State.

Through a collection called the Online Archive of California, patrons of the digital library (at www.cdlib.org) can access a fascinating array of materials that include photographs of the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, diary pages from a member of the ill-fated Donner party and sketches and artwork created by early California residents.

The materials, comprising well over 100 separate archival collections with digitized materials, also include scenes of early agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, views of the borax industry, photos of early travel in California’s national parks, gold rush mining towns and the state’s oil industry, as well as objects held by UCLA’s Fowler Museum and UC Berkeley’s Berkeley Art Museum.

Patrons can also consult online the inventories, or "finding aids," of more than 3,000 collections of archival materials housed in more than 40 separate libraries, museums, historical societies and other California organizations.

These inventories document and describe materials as rich and varied as California’s multi-faceted past. Collection themes range from the television and film industries to the Free Speech Movement at UC Berkeley; from papers associated with individuals involved in politics, literature and architecture to a county sheriff’s wanted notices at the turn of the century; from organizations such as the Sierra Club to the California Federation of Teachers to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California.

Digital access to the finding aids and to the primary source materials has been highly praised by the scholarly community and has been incorporated experimentally into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in California through special collaboration with UC Berkeley’s California Heritage and Interactive University projects.

The new financial support supplements an ongoing commitment by the University of California to enhance the Online Archive of California (OAC) both by extending the number of organizations and their finding aids, and by digitizing and making available much more of the primary source materials -- the photographs, manuscript pages, artworks and papers -- within those collections.

A $400,000 grant from the Library Services and Technology Act to the California Digital Library (CDL), administered by the California State Library, will enable the creation of the Japanese American Relocation Digital Archive. Plans include digitizing text, visual material and audio content drawn from oral histories, plus designing OAC finding aids to navigate the material.

This will be a cooperative project involving nine OAC participants: UC Berkeley, UCLA, the Japanese American National Museum, California State Universities at Fullerton and Sonoma, the University of the Pacific, the University of Southern California, the California Historical Society, and the California State Archive.

Because the Japanese-American population at the outbreak of World War II was largely in California, the holdings of California libraries on relocation issues are especially strong, including, for example, the official Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Records at UC Berkeley, the records of the Manzanar War Relocation Center at UCLA and numerous collections of personal papers of prominent Japanese Americans who lived through the relocation.

With a $500,000 "National Leadership" grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the CDL and Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at UC Berkeley will lead a group of eight museums in evaluating the capabilities of the digital finding aid technology, known as Encoded Archival Description, to integrate their collection descriptions into the OAC virtual archive collections.

An additional $600,000 from the Library of Congress (LC) will support cooperation between OAC and LC’s National Digital Library Program. Funds will be used for digitizing materials related to several important historical themes with a strong connection to California. These include a focus on the Japanese-American relocation materials, as well as the Russian presence in early Northern California; California Missions and their role in the settlement of the state; and the especially strong holdings of OAC member libraries related to the westward migration, collections that powerfully complement and expand existing Library of Congress digital collections in its American Memory program.

The convergence of shared goals, standards, technical capabilities and program commitments presents a unique opportunity for the Library of Congress and the University of California to leverage, mutually reinforce and enrich their digital collections of unique primary source material.

"The combination of these three independent sources of support and collaboration for the Online Archive of California is a vote of confidence for the importance of the materials as well as for continued leadership from California in building digital collections," said Richard Lucier, university librarian and executive director of the CDL.

"We’re proud of and thankful for the collaboration represented by the OAC. Collaboration is inherent in its success and funding, has been essential for development of the supporting technologies and is the only way to build these important digital collections for scholarly and public use."

Enhancement of the Online Archive of California and digitization of additional primary source materials will make them readily available to thousands of scholars, community leaders, writers and artists, students, and citizens who are unaware of these unique collections or unable to travel to dozens of California archives to use them.

Complementing the physical libraries on the nine campuses of the University of California system, the California Digital Library focuses on selecting, building, managing, preserving and providing access to shared collections of high-quality digital materials for UC and its partners.

Browsing and searching tools at the CDL provide enhanced access to the MelvylŪ Union Catalog of book materials held by UC campuses and a number of partners, a union list of periodicals located in more than 500 libraries in California, electronic journals from major scholarly publishers, journal abstracting and indexing databases, and the archival finding aids of the OAC. Many of these resources, notably Melvyl, the California Periodicals database and the OAC, are available to the public.

More information about the CDL can be found at <http://www.cdlib.org>; about the Institute of Museum and Library Services at <http://www.imls.fed.us>; about the Library of Congress at <http://www.loc.gov/>; and about the federal library funding administered by the California State Library at <http://www.library.ca.gov/html/grants.html>.

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Editors: For additional information about the California Digital Library, please call John Ober, CDL assistant director for education and applied research, at (510) 987-0425; or contact him by email at <john.ober@ucop.edu>.

Additional information about the California Digital Library may be found on the CDL Web site at <http://www.cdlib.org>.