The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center marked a major milestone on June 10. With its Board members in attendance, the Center announced Rourk Branch Library in Shallotte, North Carolina, as its 200th partner.
The Center, which is based in the North Carolina Collection in UNC’s Wilson Library, gives fresh visibility to the state’s history by providing digitization services to libraries, museums, historical societies, and other cultural heritage organizations. The UNC Library and the State Library of North Carolina launched the cooperative endeavor in 2009.
Now, seven years later, the Center’s website, DigitalNC.org, offers 2.7 million online scans, including 57,000 newspaper issues, more than 6,100 college and high school yearbooks and campus publications, 16,000 photographs, 500 scrapbooks, and many more items.
“We’ve worked with large and small museums, libraries, and archives, from Bryson City to Ocracoke. These partnerships bring North Carolina’s history to users all over the world,” said Lisa Gregory, who will take over as the Center’s program coordinator on July 1. Gregory has worked in various roles with the project since 2013.
The Center shares all of the materials it digitizes via DigitalNC.org, which receives more than 280,000 views each month. It also passes the files through to the Digital Public Library of America, thereby increasing exposure for these materials.
The most popular items by far are the yearbooks, where sharp-eyed readers can spot youthful versions of notable North Carolinians, including Andy Griffith, Jesse Jackson, and Pat McCrory, who appears as a long-haired Catawba College undergrad in 1975.
But researchers with all kinds of interests make use of the digital collections. Historians, genealogists, and K-12 students are among the site’s visitors, said Gregory, and many of them continue their research in the state’s libraries, archives, and museums.
“Folks see what you all have scanned and want to come here and see what else we have. This is important as about half our researchers come from out of town,” one public librarian in Granville County wrote.
Gregory had additional good news to share with the Board: A new Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services has been awarded to the Center through the State Library. The $432,000 grant will help the Center continue its work and partner with additional organizations.
Congratulations and great work to the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center!