Advancing Research, Learning and Digital Collection Building in the College with Collaboration and Partnership

Sabra Statham, Eric Novotny and Katie Falvo (Penn State University)

Collaborative projects can be an excellent way for Universities to create research opportunities and support student learning. The People’s Contest Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project is a partnership between the Penn State Libraries and the Richards Civil War Center. The project pairs librarians with scholars, large institutions with small, and faculty with students in order to create an inclusive and thoughtful research program. Founded five years ago and funded by the IMLS, its scholarly mission is to advance study of the Pennsylvania Home Front by providing online access to hidden archival sources and illuminating understudied facets of the lived experience of citizens such as African Americans and women.

The partnerships have been fruitful and to date the project has supported digital collection building, technological development, and inspired digital humanities initiatives. It is also a space where students can collaborate with scholars and librarians cataloging collections, learning preservation techniques, creating metadata, programming software, and curating digital objects.

Today’s panel will address the challenges and benefits of collaboration among diverse partners while working toward a common goal. Members will discuss student learning, research, and departmental goals. The coordinator will provide background on the project, the history librarian will discuss how partnerships contribute to the libraries’ vision for research, and the Digital History graduate assistant will address how the mapping program has helped her understand and visualize her own historical data while simultaneously supporting the University’s digital humanities agenda.