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University wins £800,000 contract for historical pamphlet digitisation

Published: 
26 January 2007

The Library digitisation team at the University of Southampton has been awarded an £800,000 contract to digitise a collection of 23,000 19th Century pamphlets, creating a total of one million pages available electronically free to institutions of higher and further education in the UK. The University's Hartley Library is acting as the lead for the Consortium for Research Libraries (CURL), and will create the content from seven major research collections held in CURL Libraries. The collection will be made available through a partnership with the Scholarly Journal Archive service, JSTOR.

Major collections from the country's heritage - currently only available to limited numbers of people at universities and other institutions across the country - will be made available to a worldwide audience as part of the project. The pamphlets are polemical voices from the past on the great debates of the 19th century.

A team led by Mark Brown, the Librarian at the University, tendered for the work in a competitive bidding process and was successful in securing the project which will run for two years from March 2007. The team at Southampton has been working on other series of national digitisation projects over the past five years, and have become specialists in this field of digitising valuable historical material.

The project will be funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), as one of 16 projects selected in the second round of a programme with a total investment of nearly £22m in the digitisation of high-quality online content in a wide range of media, including sound, film, images, journals, newspapers, maps, theses, pamphlets and cartoons.

"We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this project on behalf of the CURL Consortium," said Mark. "Our team have both the skills and the equipment here to undertake this specialist work, and it is very pleasing to know that we are contributing to the development of a national digitisation programme which will bring huge benefits to the whole higher education community and beyond."

The 16 projects join six current projects funded since 2004 which have begun to deliver resources of enormous value to education and research, widening access to otherwise inaccessible and in some cases fragile and unique resources.

Professor David Eastwood, CEO of HEFCE, welcomed the announcement, saying: "The JISC Digitisation programme has been leading the way in making more widely available resources which are either inaccessible or hard to access, something that is quietly but rapidly transforming education and research in this country. I look forward to seeing the results of these projects in the coming years and the uses to which these important resources will be put."

Professor Sir Ron Cooke, Chair of JISC, said: "The success of JISC's current digitisation projects, which have already made available sound resources, population data and medical journals and will soon deliver further important resources, has been crucial in raising the profile of digitised resources and attracting this further investment. JISC is delighted that this success has been recognised and that the programme will continue its important work."

Notes for editors

  1. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. It is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, offering first-rate opportunities and facilities for study and research across a wide range of subjects in humanities, health, science and engineering. The University has around 20,000 students and over 5000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £310 million.
  2. JISC - the Joint Information Systems Committee - is a joint committee of the UK further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources.

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