Tantalizing partnership in Abilene, Texas


When I handed in my paper on the history of the Pleasant Grove Review to my journalism history professor, I lamented the lack of really good books and articles on Utah papers in general, and I noted how I had difficulty finding experts to cite, and so I had to spend hours in the backrooms of libraries and archives going through newspapers. He gave me a long deadpan look, and said, “You’re the expert — now.”

Actually, finding the stuff in those odd places was a good bit of fun.

Kids in Abilene, Texas, may have an easier go of such research in the future. A local consortium has funding to archive local history sources.

The Abilene Library Consortium has been awarded $2.2 million to begin a Digital Archives project. The Consortium members are Abilene Christian University, Abilene Public Library, Hardin-Simmons University, McMurry University, and Howard Payne University. The five-library group will build a digital repository to preserve and present historically significant materials that tell the stories of people within their communities. The repository will be available to the public and to each home institution. Staff will schedule workshops to assist individuals and agencies in preserving their historical records.

The Dodge Jones Foundation has awarded $2 million dollars and the Dian Graves Owen Foundation awarded $200 thousand dollars to begin the project and sustain it for the first three years. The grants include funding for equipment, staff, training and outsourced services.

I wonder whether high school teachers in Abilene are salivating at the chance to turn loose a small army of young historians, or are they instead suffering through one more meeting on how to boost TAKS scores?

Tip of the scrub brush to Library Technology in Texas.

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