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CLIR Receives NEH Grant for Openlab Workshop

Contact: Christa Williford

Broad partnership will explore a solutions lab to help galleries, libraries, archives, and museums use technology to achieve greater public impact

Washington, DC, July 31, 2015-The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) $49,962 in a cooperative agreement to support a two-day workshop in October dedicated to a promising new venture, Openlab.

Openlab is envisioned as a solutions lab, convener, and consultancy designed to accelerate the speed and impact of transformational change in the gallery, library, archives, and museum (GLAM) sector.

The workshop will be run in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums, American Library Association, Digital Public Library of America, and NEH Office of Digital Humanities and Division of Public Programs. Additional support will be forthcoming from the Digital Library Federation and other partners. Digital strategist and CLIR Distinguished Fellow Michael Peter Edson will lead and facilitate the workshop.

Openlab is based on the premise that GLAMs have profound and important missions in society: to increase and disseminate knowledge, to encourage civic dialog and engagement, and to support individuals in their right to access and participate in culture. GLAMs are the conduits that enable the humanities to have an impact on millions of scholars, teachers, and the broader public every day.

But the relationship between GLAMs, the public, and the humanities has changed in the digital age. Technology provides GLAMs with new ways to dramatically increase the scale and impact of their work in the humanities. While some cutting-edge GLAMs are using technology to bring the humanities to large and diverse public audiences in highly engaging ways, many others do not possess the expertise, confidence, or capacity to fully leverage digital technologies.

The Openlab concept is designed to address these challenges and spread the ideas and methods of large-scale public engagement with the humanities to as many institutions and individuals as possible.

“Openlab is an innovative, thoughtful, and urgently needed concept,” said CLIR President Chuck Henry. “It proposes to build and manage communities of expertise that will prudently and coherently accelerate the adoption of technology in service to the primary mission of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums: to develop new tools and resources that engage the public, promote access to our cultural heritage, and facilitate a deeper understanding of the artifacts and artistry that define us. I am profoundly grateful for the support of NEH, allowing us to explore the opportunities and implications of Openlab as a means to advance the humanities in the 21st century.”

CLIR and Openlab will issue periodic updates as workshop planning progresses. Developments will also be posted via Twitter at @CLIRNews and @CLIRDLF.

About the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR)

The Council on Library and Information Resources ( is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. CLIR is home to the Digital Library Federation (, a robust and diverse community of practitioners who advance research, teaching, and learning through the application of digital library research, technology, and services. DLF serves as a resource and catalyst for collaboration among digital library developers, project managers, and all who are invested in digital library issues.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed projects from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

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