U-M receives grant for digital library

December 19, 1994
  • umichnews@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan has received a grant from the Mellon Foundation to deploy and evaluate a digital library in support of the social sciences and humanities.

Called JSTOR (Journal Storage Project), the project will scan 10 major journals of economics and history, making them available through the use of evolving digital library technology.

“This project represents one of the largest conversions of archival materials to digital form to date,” U-M officials say. ” Once operational, this will make available to researchers a significant collection of materials at their desktop. The ability to search a hundred years of these journals represents a major step forward towards the concept of the ‘library without walls.'”

The Mellon grant was awarded to the U-M’s School of Information and Library Studies (SILS) and College of Engineering, in conjunction with the University Library and the Information Technology Division. The JSTOR will involve a collaboration between the Mellon Foundation and development activity being undertaken at Michigan through a recent $4 million federal grant for a digital library.

Those journals to be digitized are American Economic Review, Econometrica, Journal of Political Economy, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economics and Statistics, American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Modern History, Speculum, and the William and Mary Quarterly. Approximately 750,000 printed pages will be made available to authorized users. These pages will include all issues of these journals from their original date of publication through 1990.

Randall L. Frank, executive director of information technology for the U-M’s College of Engineering and SILS, will be the JSTOR’s project director. Wendy Lougee, director of Campuswide Digital Library Initiatives, and Kitty Bridges, director of Information Resource Services, will be co-principal investigators. On behalf of the Mellon Foundation, the project is being managed by Ira H. Fuchs, vice president for computing and information technology at Princeton University.

In its first year, JSTOR will provide access to U-M and five college libraries, including the BrynMawr/Haverford/Swarthmore library network, Denison University, and Williams College.

“Feedback from users and an evaluation of the system’s impact on campus libraries will be a critical component of the undertaking. The project hopes to assist institutions in better understanding challenges of storing growing print library collections, access to journal literature, deterioration of older volumes, and new funding models for information access and delivery,” says Fuchs.

The JSTOR project will add to the growing set of initiatives being undertaken as part of the University of Michigan Digital Library (UMDL) environment. The SILS/Library/Information Technology Division partnership has launched a series of projects to add content to the campus network and also build the infrastructure for digital media and its distribution and access.

A recent award to SILS of $4 million from the federal government will develop a digital library testbed for earth and space sciences. This project will consider a complex array of technical and socioeconomic issues and will focus on assisting users to harvest information from the large and growing web of information available through the Internet.

The project is a collaborative effort among University researchers from many departments and external partners which include IBM, Elsevier Science, Apple Computer, Bellcore, UMI International, McGraw-Hill Encyclopaedia, Britannica Educational Corporation, and Kodak. Daniel E. Atkins, dean and professor of the School of Information and Library Studies and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is the project director. The users include clients and staff of the U-M Libraries; clients and staff of the Science Industry and Business Library of the New York Public Library system, and faculty, staff, and students of Ann Arbor, Mich., and New York Stuyvesant High School.