October 5, 2015
The University of Toronto has been awarded a grant of $773,000 USD ($1,034,750 CAD) from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop digital tools to support manuscript study. The funding will be used by the University to support a partnership between its library and its Centre for Medieval Studies (CMS) to further develop the widely adopted and award-winning open source digital scholarship platform Omeka, facilitating its increased use in the digital manuscript studies field. The Mellon Foundation’s grant will enable the building of infrastructure and capacity at the University of Toronto Libraries to support digital scholarship, foster further technical and intellectual collaboration between the U of T and other research institutions, and contribute to the community development and adoption of standards-compliant, interoperable, modular digital scholarship tools that are closely informed by scholarly needs.
The thirty-month project will begin in October 2015, and is being led by co-principal investigators Sian Meikle, Director, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries and Alexandra Gillespie, Associate Professor, English and Medieval Studies, University of Toronto. This grant application would not have been possible without the essential and substantial contributions made by University of Toronto Libraries staff members Leslie Barnes and Bilal Khalid, and Alexandra Bolintineanu, who holds a CLIR-funded post-doctoral position at the Centre for Medieval Studies. Dr. Gillespie said, “The generous funding that the Mellon Foundation has provided will enable us to assemble, here at the University of Toronto, a team of skilled technologists, scholars, and data specialists to address the needs of humanities researchers. Our focus will be on the development of special digital tools that will enable us to make images of precious medieval manuscripts accessible, open, sustainable and usable to researchers now and in the future.”
The U of T Libraries and CMS will develop these tools in collaboration with Benjamin Albritton (Digital Manuscripts Program Manager, Digital Library Systems and Services, Stanford University Libraries) and the Mirador development team, and Dot Porter (Curator of Digital Research Services, Penn Libraries), and her group at Penn’s Kislak Centre for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Donald Waters, Senior Program Officer for Scholarly Communications at the Mellon Foundation, said, “On full display in this grant is the collaborative spirit that scholars have shown in working with librarians and technologists to build, improve, and use the digital tools and resources needed to enrich the study of the medieval period.”
“We are deeply grateful to the Mellon Foundation for making it possible for us to expand our capabilities to support digital scholarship in Medieval Studies,” said Chief Librarian Larry Alford. “The University of Toronto Libraries has a 55 year history of building and using leading edge technology tools to support learning and research. We are excited to collaborate with faculty and major research libraries around the world on this innovative project.”
University of Toronto President Meric Gertler remarked, “The Mellon Foundation’s generous grant comes at a pivotal time in the evolution of digital humanities and will support our work of developing new technologies, opening new avenues of research and increasing access to rich research materials. The Mellon award will also enable the University of Toronto to continue a tradition of pioneering global and interdisciplinary partnerships, and our libraries’ leadership in the innovative development and use of information technology to support research.”