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Grant Will Foster Creation of Newspapers Platforms

The J. Willard Marriott Library at The University of Utah has been awarded, along with the Boston Public Library (BPL), a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to develop open source software that will allow organizations worldwide to more easily make their historic newspaper collections digitally accessible.

An article describing battles in Berlin during World War 2 in April 1945.

The proposal, entitled “Historical Newspapers in Hydra: Building a platform to restore access to cultural treasures” with Principle Investigator (PI) Harish Maringanti (Utah) and co-PI Eben English (BPL), received a 2-year, $249,999 in grant funding.

As a founder of one of the nation’s first and largest public digital newspapers programs – the Utah Digital Newspapers – the library is uniquely positioned to collaborate and lead in the development of this software. This work will support the needs of both the general public and scholars who use the content.

The Marriott Library and the Boston Public Library will work collaboratively, with input from peers across the nation, to develop newspaper specific functionality within the open source framework, Hydra. Originally developed by Stanford University, the University of Virginia, and the University of Hull (UK), the Hydra framework is highly scalable and sustainable, which is important for libraries and cultural heritage organizations that are just starting to build their digital collections platforms. With the IMLS grant funding, the staff at the Marriott Library and Boston Public Library will use Hydra in developing digital newspaper collections with peer institutions.

“This work is significant in a number of ways,” explains Harish Maringanti, Associate Dean for IT and Digital Library Services at the Marriott Library. “Not only are we creating the tools needed to develop digital collections, but we’re also fostering a global community of practitioners including developers, librarians, content specialists, and managers… those who are dedicated to collaborating on best practices in building newspaper platforms.”

This project received letters of support from a number of national organizations including the Digital Public Library of America, Stanford University Libraries and the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale University. “We’re very pleased about receiving this award from IMLS. It’s an exciting opportunity for us to engage with our peers and help create the tools to foster discovery and knowledge, while increasing access across the globe,” comments Brian McBride, Head of Digital Infrastructure Development at the Marriott Library.

Brian McBride (left) and Harish Maringanti (right) hold an issue of the Salt Lake Tribune from April 24th, 1914. This is one issue of the Tribune that has been digitized and is available through Utah Digital Newspapers. 

For more information on the IMLS grant and the initiative to increase access to historic digital newspapers, contact Harish Maringanti or Brian McBride.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and approximately 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. A complete list of grant awardees can be found here. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Utah Digital Newspapers

The Utah Digital Newspapers (UDN) program, founded by the J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, has been operating since 2002 and is recognized as one of the leaders in newspaper digitization in the United States, especially within the public sector. We have continued to partner with universities, colleges, state agencies, county and city libraries, and other agencies to digitize, deliver, and archive historical newspaper collections. What started as a digital program to digitize 30 years of 3 weekly newspapers (around 30,000 pages), has now grown into a sizable collection. It has over 1.88 million pages, over 22.1 million articles and over 135 newspaper titles.


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