The University of Leicester Library has been awarded a grant of £335,000 to create a digital library which will be larger than the printed holdings of any individual institution.
The grant from the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) is for the digitisation of a large selection of eighteenth and nineteenth century local and trade directories from localities in England and Wales.
It is intended that 400 volumes, consisting of over 300,000 printed pages, will be digitised during the two-year span of the project.
Those who will reap the benefit of these historical sources include not only academic local and economic historians, but also school students, amateur genealogists and members of the public.
The digitisation process will mean that exact reproductions of the volumes will become freely accessible online to anyone with an Internet connection. There will also be a powerful search engine available, so that names, occupations, addresses and other key words or phrases can be located to their exact places on the pages within the text.
In addition to some of the directories from the Library’s own English Local History collection, volumes from many other libraries and record offices will be included in the project.
The NOF-digitise programme is a £50 million lottery-funded project to enable the digitisation of learning materials on a national basis. It will support the creation of computerised resources that have particular relevance for lifelong learning and education in its broadest sense.
The successful grant application was made by David Welding, Technical Services Librarian, who will be Project Director, with the encouragement and advice of Dr Timothy Hobbs, University Librarian. Mr Welding said: “The project chosen by the University Library is one that has relevance to the burgeoning interest in genealogy and local history in the wider community, from designers of school projects to family historians, but which also has significant applications in student teaching and academic research.”
Note to editors: Further information is available from David Welding, Digitisation Project Director, University of Leicester Library, telephone 0116 252 2041, facsimile 0116 252 2066, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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