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Mellon Foundation Awards CLIR Grant To Examine Scholarly Utility of Large-Scale Digitization Projects

subject: Mellon Foundation
operating grant

CLIR Press Releases

For Immediate Release: July 10, 2007

Kathlin Smith

Mellon Foundation Awards CLIR Grant To Examine Scholarly Utility of Large-Scale Digitization Projects

Washington, D.C.—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) a grant to assess the utility to scholars of several large-scale digitization projects. CLIR will conduct the project in partnership with Georgetown University.

Large-scale book-scanning projects, such as Google’s and Microsoft’s, are making vast collections of works easily accessible in a form that can be queried, interpreted, and reconstituted as new knowledge. These resources are a potential boon to scholars, enabling research that was previously not possible. But are these databases being organized and built to best support the methodologies and intellectual strategies of contemporary scholarship?

CLIR’s project will focus on Google Book Search, Microsoft’s Live Book Search, Project Gutenberg, Perseus, the ACLS Humanities E-Book project, and, possibly, the Open Content Alliance as the main sources for analysis of digitized content. CLIR will ask scholars from historical and literary areas of study to summarize key methodological considerations in conducting research in their disciplines. Scholars will then assess each mass digitization project under scrutiny, and each will submit a report. The reports will be synthesized and recommendations drawn from them. The summary will serve as the basis of a larger meeting of scholars in November 2007 to discuss the findings and recommendations and to determine next steps. Chief among these will be a strategy for working with individual and corporate database developers to improve the utility of these databases to scholars. CLIR will issue a public report early in 2008.

CLIR President Charles Henry will serve as principal investigator in the project. Georgetown University Provost James O’Donnell will serve as consultant.

The project is described in detail at [link removed June 2010]

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good. Through publications, projects, and programs, CLIR works to maintain and improve access to information for generations to come. In partnership with other institutions, CLIR helps create services that expand the concept of “library” and supports the providers and preservers of information. Details about CLIR and its work are available at

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