Global Resources Network Projects Receive International Digitization Grants

The U.S. Department of Education recently awarded more than $2 million in grant funds through the Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) program of the office of Postsecondary Education, International Education Programs Service.

The TICFIA program provides grants to develop innovative techniques or programs that access, collect, organize, preserve, and widely disseminate information on world regions and countries other than the United States. The program was developed in 1998 in consultation with higher education institutions interested in area studies and foreign resources. Global Resources Network partici-pants played a significant role in the formation of the program through the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

In the most recent round of funding (four-year awards supporting projects running 2009–13), 13 awards were given. All of the grants were awarded to CRL/GRN libraries and affiliated programs. Two of the programs in particular involve CRL participation.

Digital South Asia Library

The University of Chicago received a grant to create digital versions of historical audio recordings, maps, and images of South Asia and deliver them via the Digital South Asia Library. The Center for Research Libraries, the British Library, and the Roja Muthiah Research Library will collaborate on the project.

Building upon the foundation and experience of previous digital initiatives, the project Audio, Maps, and Images from South Asia: Overseas Resources for Understanding the Subcontinent, will make new contributions to scholarship with three specific services:

  1. recovery and delivery of early audio recordings in the languages of South Asia;
  2. creation and presentation of digital cartographic resources and geographic information system data for the entirety of South Asia; and
  3. conversion and digital access to important photographic images of the subcontinent.

All of these resources will be of wide-ranging use across the social sciences, humanities, and sciences. The project is designed to create resources for instruction in less commonly taught languages and other uses by collecting, digital conversion, and delivery via the Internet of gramophone records in South Asian languages.

The University of Chicago and the Center for Research Libraries have been awarded four TICFIA grants for development of the Digital South Asia Library. This is the largest number of awards under the TICFIA category of federal funding.

Digital Library for International Research

The American Institute of Yemeni Studies (AIYS) and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) received an award for the Digital Library for International Research (DLIR) to catalog and digitize photographic, ethnographic, archaeological, cartographic, and other scholarly research support materials from a variety of international locations.

The current project, the Cooperative Digitization of International Research Materials (CDIRM), will use participating American overseas research centers’ connections to collaborate with foreign archives and special collections that hold unique and rare research materials. Selected materials from Guatemala, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Palestine, Yemen, and Mongolia will be made easily and freely available over the Internet to American and international scholars and students. Not only are most of these materials uncataloged, unavailable, or unknown to scholars, most are extremely difficult to access (because of location, unsettled political conditions, privacy issues, or bureaucratic procedures).

DLIR collaborates with CRL on project implementation and infrastructure, including the 50,000-record union catalog of the project. The Coordinator of DLIR, located at the Center for Research Libraries, will act as program manager for the new grant award.

This is the third TICFIA grant AIYS and CAORC have received: the first, in 1999, helped establish the union catalog (CAORC’s Digital Library for International Research); the second, in 2005, helped American overseas research centers in several countries partner with local archival and library collections to provide access to a rich vein of previously inaccessible scholarly material.

Other Awards

The breadth of coverage of this award period is impressive, and the programs are as diverse as they are ambitious. More details about each program can be found on CRL’s TICFIA project page, hosted on behalf of the Department of Education.


  • African Sources Digital Library
    Harvard University
    Construct a digital library of African language documents (booklets, poetry, essays, treatises, travelogues, private) in indigenous lan-guages of West and East Africa.
  • Oral African Languages Library
    Michigan State University
    Digitize and make accessible a substantial repository of oral narrative collections from West, Northeast, East, and Southern Africa.


  • Digital Archives of Thailand
    University of Washington
    Create a digital archive comprising ethnographic, socioeconomic, and visual materials, including texts, photographs, maps, and GIS-supported visualizations.
  • Digitization of Southeast Asian Materials
    Northern Illinois University
    Digitize texts, images (including photographs and murals), sound, and video materials featuring Southeast Asian scholars, writers, artists, public figures, and citizens discussing their work and experiences.
  • Southeast Asian Languages Library
    University of Wisconsin
    Create digital resources (including dictionaries and text corpora) for national and minority Southeast Asian languages, and tools to support pedagogy, research, computational linguistics, and reference.
  • Tibetan and Himalayan Library
    University of Virginia
    Produce reference repositories for contemporary and historical coverage of Tibet and the Himalayas, building interconnections between collections of audio-video, images, maps, scholarship, and classical literature.

Latin America & Caribbean

  • Caribbean Newspaper Digital Library
    Florida International University
    Digitize and archive Caribbean newspapers in all languages and build capacity for newspaper preservation and access in the region.
  • Energy Policy in Latin America
    University of New Mexico
    Collect, translate, analyze, and disseminate information about energy policy, regulation, and dialogue in Latin America.
  • Latin American Electronic Data Archives
    University of Texas at Austin
    Acquire and preserve data sets relevant to Latin American research and policy development, making files available via a user-friendly Web interface for data extraction and analysis.
  • Linguistic Archives of Mesoamerica
    Indiana University
    Create a digital archive of video, research notes, audio interviews, photographs, and other digital sources related to minority languages and cultures of Central America and Mexico.

Middle East

  • Middle Eastern Gazettes
    Yale University
    Create a digital representation of the gazettes of independent Syria and British Mandate Palestine for the period 1919–48, and develop tools for full-text searching and creation of multilingual finding aids.