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Smith Libraries, Art Museum, and Botanic Gardens Win Mellon Grant to Develop Collaborative Digital Infrastructure


Smith library, museum, and botanic garden

Published February 17, 2020

We are pleased to announce that The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Smith College an additional grant to support academic art museum, botanic garden, and library collaborations. The new grant follows a planning grant awarded in 2017 and provides $380,000 in funding. Upon completion, the grant will leave Smith with a sustainable digital infrastructure shared by the museum, libraries, and gardens. The College will have a campus-based model of stewardship, newly linked data and collections, and entirely new cross-collection public access to the materials in an unprecedented way to the benefit of the campus community and the wider public.

Smith College Libraries, Smith College Museum of Art, Information Technology Services, and other campus partners will develop a program for collections data governance and preservation of digital assets of the College’s unique, professionally stewarded collections, including choosing and implementing an enterprise-level preservation system. The project envisions digital preservation and collections data governance in a way that generates a campus-based model of stewardship, linked data, and public access to the collections. This model will leverage and unify existing, but heretofore disparate, College resources in an unprecedented way to the benefit of the campus community and the wider public. This includes cross-collection discovery that links multiple types of materials by subject, improving the collection discovery and access by students, faculty, and other researchers, and providing a robust and sustainable system for the long term stewardship of Smith’s unique and rare materials.

The first year of the project will focus on building a collaborative governance structure and shared metadata standards. Once these models are adopted, Smith will develop a digital preservation program, complete with staff, documentation, systems, and processes to ensure that the College’s collections remain available for students, faculty, and researchers for many years to come.

Additionally, this work will lead to enhanced access to the broad range of collections material at Smith. With a cross-unit metadata model in place, the Libraries will be well-positioned to harness their Discover platform to enable better access to other collections on campus, including Smith College Art Museum and Botanic Garden collections. We hope that this collaboration will serve as a model to other institutions seeking to enhance digital stewardship and access to their cultural, historical, and scientific collections.


Elizabeth Myers