July 6, 2005 — The University of the Virgin Islands has embarked on a project to link historical research information and other public records of Caribbean islands under one umbrella in order to allow the documents to be accessed via the Internet. The project, called the Digital Library of the Caribbean (DLC), consists of partners from several Caribbean nations through their universities and institutions of higher learning.
The project was made possible by a four-year U.S. Department of Education grant provided to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Other Caribbean islands and nations also received the grant, including Haiti, Jamaica, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The state of Florida also received grant money.
"The project is an attempt to develop an umbrella group within the Caribbean islands to identify resources that would support research," said Judith Rogers, UVI St. Croix campus librarian. Rogers said the digital library would help to preserve important historical documents, which would otherwise be in jeopardy. Rogers says the scope of documents to be preserved includes historical papers and government documents "that are not necessarily published but are unique and needed."
UVI received an award for its creation of the digital library from the Association of Caribbean University, Research and Institutional Libraries (ACURIL) at its 35th annual conference held June 10 in Martinique.
ACURIL, which originated as part of a movement for Caribbean cooperation at the university level, recognizes the need for close cooperation among university and research libraries in the region.
"The assembling of the documents is in the beginning stages," Rogers said, adding that preserving the documents is critical. For example, with the ongoing unrest in Haiti, government archives and other historical documents are threatened.
Rogers said discussions from past meetings of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that are no longer sealed can be used by scholars or the general public for research purposes.
Rogers said they are working on spreading the word so more documents can be added and more scholars can access the information.
"We plan to target Caribbean studies associations to promote the use of the resource for education purposes," Rogers said. "Right now the plan is to make the information available to the general public."
The web site for the collection will be made public on October 1. For more information on the project, contact Judith Rogers at UVI's St. Croix campus at 340-692-4132.
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