ECSU Works to Digitize and Preserve North Carolina History Thanks to State Library of North Carolina Grant
Dr. Juanita Spence, director of library services at ECSU’s G.R. Little Library, is heading up efforts to establish a North Carolina Digital Heritage Center satellite location on campus thanks to a grant awarded to the university by the State Library of North Carolina.
Elizabeth City State University’s G.R. Little Library and its staff are working to preserve North Carolina history. Thanks to a $163,991 grant from the State Library of North Carolina (SLNC), the university’s library will be able to assist the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center (DHC) in digitizing historic documents and photographs, preserving them for future generations.
The grant, according to the director of library services, Dr. Juanita Spence, will go directly towards funding equipment and staff that will allow the library to digitize material from ECSU’s 21-county service area throughout Northeastern North Carolina.
The DHC, located in Chapel Hill, has been working to establish satellite locations across North Carolina. The satellite locations, such as ECSU’s G.R. Little Library, will allow residents of the region to loan material for digitization and maintain ownership of them.
“At one time, we would have to drive all the way to Chapel Hill to do the digitizing,” said Dr. Spence. “Now people from Bertie County can come here to ECSU and not drive all the way to Chapel Hill.”
Cynthia Wise, ECSU librarian, is working with Dr. Spence on the project. She says this mission to preserve North Carolina history through digitization will give the region’s residents the opportunity to dig through their personal papers and photos, have them scanned and then preserved for future generations.
“We are trying to capture, for example, as many newspapers as possible,” said Ms. Wise. “The older the better. The rarer the better.”
Ms. Wise said families that have been involved in community service and possess documents and photos could also share those with the DHC.
“If your family members were community leaders, and you have family photos as someone of the mayor of your small town, or if you kept your high school newspaper, we would want that,” she said.
The owners of the documents and photos would retain those items after the scanning is complete.
Ms. Wise said the way it works is, a person would first contact the DHC in Chapel Hill about the documents or photos. The center would then contact the staff at the G.R. Little Library and arrange to have those items digitized in Elizabeth City, to be stored in the statewide database.
“All of those things are unique and rare and offer insight into the communities in the region,” she said.
The grant will fund the purchase of the digitization equipment, a part-time library staff member and two student interns. Dr. Spence says the target date for launching the G.R. Little Library DHC satellite project is October 2021.
The digitization project is supported by grant funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the federal Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.