Last updated on Apr 14, 2017
By Caroline Ryan
On Feb. 6, the Palmer School of Library and Information Sciences was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation. “The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, an independent charity, established in 1987, supports the study of New York State history. The grant is going to be used to “digitize materials in the collections of local historical societies,” Gregory Hunter, professor of library and information science, and leader of the doctoral program at the Palmer School.
According to a Feb. 27 press release from the University, “With the Gardiner Foundation’s grant, LIU will digitize and preserve a collection of historical documents currently held by historical societies across Long Island, with a particular emphasis on Suffolk County.”
Kathryn Curran, Executive Director of the RDLG Foundation said, “ After intense site visits I realized that many of our Long Island historical societies have wonderful collections that have never been catalogued or properly managed. I was aware of the Palmer Library, I approached LIU for a proposal for our support to their archivist program. I approached President Cline and the Library School working with Dr. Hunter [and] they applied for a Gardiner Grant.
Hunter will lead the project to digitize and preserve historical documents that are being held by historical societies across Long Island. “Most of the digitization will take place in the local historical societies. Some items may require special handling, because of size, format, or physical condition. With the permission of the historical society, we will digitize these items in our lab at the Palmer School,” Hunter stated. The historical documents will then be showcased at an annual Gardiner Symposium, an event to highlight the rich resources in the local historical societies.
LIU Post graduate and masters students will be working on the digitization project. Hunter will begin conducting assessments with the local historical societies to determine which students will be participating in the project. The grant includes scholarships for 9 students and 2 Ph.D students at the Palmer School. Students will be “digitizing historical documents, creating descriptive information (metadata) about them, performing quality control checks, and loading the images into a cloud-based digital archives,” Hunter said.
“Students will be digitizing the materials at either at LIU or on site at the historical societies, however Dr. Hunter thinks best after assessing the historical societies’ collections,” “The grant will be used to catalogue and digitize historical archives. Students will be going to the historical societies and working with them for first hand archivist experience. This will also help the historic society to learn how to handle its collections, as well as being able to share these items for research,” said Curran.
“In the digital age, the work of archivists and librarians has changed in exciting ways. Our Gardiner Project is an indication of the new career paths open in these professions,” Hunter said.
In the press release, President Cline stated, “Long Island University is proud to partner our nationally recognized Palmer School with the resources of the Robert David Lion Gardner Foundation to help preserve Long Island’s history.”