University of Dubuque Selected to Participate in New Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research

Jul 20, 2015 | Kristi Lynch

The University of Dubuque has been chosen as one of a select group of 42 institutions nationwide – the only institution in Iowa – by the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) to participate in a Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research. The Consortium intends to improve teaching and learning, enhance faculty and student/faculty research, and streamline administrative capabilities through a uniform digital system of cataloging important research material collections.

A $2.2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will support three years of workshops for librarians, faculty and staff members and will subsidize use of Shared Shelf, Artstor’s digital asset management service already used by institutions such as Harvard and Cornell. With this grant, digital documentation of collections held by the University of Dubuque and 41 other institutions will now be maintained‎ and made publicly accessible via the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) through Artstor, the nonprofit organization that provides Shared Shelf and serves as one of DPLA’s content-providing “hubs.”

CIC President Richard Ekman said, “As digitization allows hidden collections to be shared, teachers and scholars all over the country will benefit. These 42 institutions—some of which are in remote locations—are known for their dedication to teaching and for providing life-changing liberal arts education to students from all backgrounds. Through the Consortium, they will be able to gain access to an important national digital resource. Their one-of-a-kind collections will be more visible and more widely used.”

The University of Dubuque’s project Voices Ahead of the Curve will digitize oral histories of African American alumni and current students that have been conducted by current UD students.  “This grant will provide a tremendous boost toward preserving our institution’s rich history and making it accessible to a wide audience,” notes Assistant Professor of History Brian Hallstoos.  “The top-notch digital management system and the CIC workshops will prepare us to engage students in new and exciting ways.  I’m already imagining course projects that prompt the use of historical documents, recordings and photographs that students otherwise wouldn’t know existed.  Students in our Oral History and Archives courses, research assistants, and fellows will see the product of their labor – for instance interviews with alumni – transformed into the digital building blocks used by their professors and peers for understanding our past.”

Artstor President James Shulman said, “The Mellon Foundation’s support will enable important collections—oral histories of the Ottawa people, the Civil Rights movement in Greensboro, 17th century maps—to be managed and cared for. But the collaboration among these CIC colleges also will provide an on-ramp for these collections to flow into an emerging national digital platform. We are delighted to partner with CIC in supporting these projects.”

The first meeting of the Consortium will take place in Washington, DC, September 10–12, 2015.

The Council of Independent Colleges is an association of 755 nonprofit independent colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that has worked since 1956 to support college and university leadership, advance institutional excellence, and enhance public understanding of private higher education’s contributions to society.