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CLIR Receives $1.12 Million to Implement Platform and Processes for Digital Library of the Middle East

Met birdWashington, DC, April 3, 2018—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) $1.12 million to implement a sustainable, extensible digital library platform and set of curatorial processes to federate records relating to the cultural heritage of the Middle East.

CLIR and its Digital Library Federation (DLF) program will work with technical partners at Stanford University and content providers worldwide to build on the Digital Library of the Middle East (DLME) prototype and create processes to extend the DLME. The DLME is envisioned as a non-proprietary, multilingual library of digital objects providing greater security for, preservation of, and access to digital surrogates of cultural heritage materials.

“This critically important grant allows us to build and refine an exemplary global, federated digital library; to establish a secure, virtual environment for the preservation, access, and reuse of often-threatened elements of our cultural legacy; and to engage communities of effort and practice for the long-term sustainability of this and related projects,” said CLIR President and project co-PI Charles Henry.

The platform will be portable and reusable for any future digital library project, encouraging a global coherence of access to and preservation of the cultural record. The project team, led by DLME Project Director Peter Herdrich, Curatorial Lead Elizabeth Waraksa, and a data manager/project coordinator based at Stanford Libraries, will draw on best practices from other digital library projects to support cost-effective and reproducible curatorial workflows for identifying, selecting, and federating digital assets that represent both cultural materials under threat and objects housed in libraries and museums beyond conflict zones.

“We’re honored and humbled at the opportunity to undertake this project in service to the people whose history will be accessible and cross-searchable through the DLME,” said DLF Executive Director and co-PI Bethany Nowviskie. “A major focus of the work will be on respectful representation and close partnership with scholars, communities, and content stewards.”

“This generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enable CLIR/DLF and its international partners to build platforms and processes that will facilitate rich scholarship on and in the region for years to come,” said CLIR Board Chair Kathleen Fitzpatrick.

The project builds on experience gained in developing the DLME prototype, announced in January, which was supported with funding from the Whiting Foundation, and on regional partnership building and exploration of governance models in an earlier planning phase supported by Mellon. Among CLIR’s key collaborators are the Qatar National Library and the Antiquities Coalition.

CLIR and Stanford expect to launch the platform in 2020.

For more information on the DLME, visit

The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) 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 promotes forward-looking collaborative solutions that transcend disciplinary, institutional, professional, and geographic boundaries in support of the public good. Among CLIR’s programs and a core DLME contributor is the Digital Library Federation, an international network of member institutions and robust community of practice advancing research, learning, social justice, and the public good through the creative design and wise application of digital library technologies.

Image: Belt ornament in the form of a bird demon. Urartian, ca late 8th-7th century BC. Gift of Norbert Schimmel Trust, 1989. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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