The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CRL major funding for an international cooperative effort to dramatically expand electronic access to primary source materials and data for area and international studies. The new initiative will build upon the Global Resources and Area Materials programs based at CRL to modernize the “supply chain” currently providing non-English language and non-Western materials to researchers worldwide.
CRL will undertake the new initiative in cooperation with national organizations from the U.S., Canada, Germany, and the U.K., as well as partner libraries and institutes in Latin America. The Mellon Foundation funding, in the amount of $661,000, will supplement an additional investment of $800,000 committed by CRL and the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft). The initial two-year development phase will focus on Latin America and the Caribbean, and the diaspora communities emanating from that region. It will also lay the groundwork for international cooperation that can be applied by CRL and its partners to other world regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and East Asia.
CRL will work with the German Research Foundation, Canadian Research Knowledge Network, and Research Libraries UK to coordinate participation by libraries in those regions. Involvement of Latin American partners in the effort will promote an equitable exchange of information between research institutions in the North and those in Latin America.
The project builds upon the longstanding cooperative area studies collection development under the CRL umbrella, including the Area Materials Projects (formerly Area Microform Projects) and the Global Resources Program. The initiative responds to concerns raised in the 2012 forum The Global Dimensions of Scholarship and Research Libraries, co-sponsored by Duke University and CRL and supported by the Mellon Foundation, about shortcomings in the longstanding apparatus for acquiring and preserving materials for area and international studies.
Lars Schoultz, William Rand Kenan, Jr., Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (and member of CRL's Board of Directors) calls the initiative "an exceptionally ambitious cooperative project aimed not simply at halting the irreplaceable loss of unique materials, but at answering fundamental questions about their equitable distribution worldwide--here is an initiative that will serve scholars for generations to come."