Monday, December 20, 2010
What does it take to create a comprehensive digital library for Theodore Roosevelt? Among many ingredients necessary for success, the expertise of historians, librarians, education professionals, and organizations that hold Roosevelt materials is key. And that expertise is precisely what is represented on the Theodore Roosevelt Center’s advisory board.
The advisory board held its inaugural meeting at the Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta, Georgia, last week. On one of the coldest days of the year in Atlanta, the board met to consider major questions regarding the development of the Center and the digital library: What does it mean to be “comprehensive”? When will we know we are done? What should our relationship be to other TR and digital library organizations? What partnerships and funding sources should we pursue to accomplish our goals?
Participating in the meeting were representatives of each of the areas of expertise noted above: historians and TR biographers H.W. Brands and Kathleen Dalton; Thomas Jefferson Foundation Librarian Jack Robertson; director of the Louisville Free Public Library, and Library Journal’s 2010 Librarian of the Year, Craig Buthod; Theodore Roosevelt National Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor; State Historical Society of North Dakota’s expansion coordinator Claudia Berg; and executive director of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education, Joey King. Members of the board who could not attend were Chief of the Manuscripts Division of the Library of Congress, James Hutson; Sagamore Hill National Historic Site Superintendent Tom Ross; historian and author Patricia O’Toole; and Simon Roosevelt.
Meeting at the Carter Library and Museum allowed the board to learn about the challenges and opportunities experienced by a presidential library in digitizing presidential materials. The Carter Library holds some 27,000,000 documents and has digitized only a small fraction. Acting Director David Stanhope described the work that has been done thus far and the need for significant funding to continue the digitization in a systematic way. Currently, materials are digitized on request. Stanhope also gave the group a tour of the archives and the recently renovated museum.
The advisory board challenged the staff to contribute to presidential studies by setting the standard for digital projects. From internships for graduate students in history, to possible grant funding sources, the board proposed many action items for the staff to advance the Center’s mission.
Representing the Center at the meeting were DSU president Dr. Richard McCallum, Theodore Roosevelt humanities scholar Clay Jenkinson, and project manager Sharon Kilzer.