Project Description

The American Institute of Yemeni Studies (AIYS) and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) were awarded a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Technological Innovation and Cooperation for Foreign Information Access (TICFIA) program to catalog and digitize photographic, ethnographic, archaeological, cartographic, and other scholarly research support materials from a variety of international locations. This is the third TICFIA grant AIYS and CAORC have received. The first, in 1999, helped establish the union catalog of CAORC's Digital Library for International Research; the second, initiated in 2005 as the LALORC project, is helping 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.

The current project, the Cooperative Digitization of International Research Materials (CDIRM), is utilizing participating American overseas research centers' connections to collaborate with foreign archives and with special collections that hold unique and rare research materials. Selected materials from Guatemala, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Yemen, Morocco and Mongolia are being 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). The Coordinator of the Digital Library for International Research, located at the Center for Research Libraries, acts as program manager.

This collaborative technology-based project provides new, shared electronic access to detailed descriptive information about selected archive and rare collections in a unified online finding aid; online union catalogs of holdings with consolidated item-level bibliographic searching; and full-text and image online access for prioritized subsets of the collections. The current project will also disseminate many resources in non-Roman language alphabets (primarily various Arabic dialects, Tibetan, and Hebrew, but potentially also Ottoman Turkish and Mongolian) and help teachers of less commonly taught languages acquire materials for classroom use electronically.

These cost-effective projects through the Digital Library for International Research continue to create wide accessibility to high-quality scholarly resources in humanistic studies for scholars around the world, stimulate collaborations among U.S. and local scholars and scholarly institutions, and use technology to speed up scholarly research, open new perspectives, and make international research possible for scholars who would otherwise have no access to these resources.