Monday, November 29, 2010

Civil Rights Digital Library honored with national award

The Civil Rights Digital Library, hosted by the University of Georgia Libraries and GALILEO, was recently awarded the 2010 Schwartz Prize for excellence in the public humanities by the Federation of State Humanities Councils.

The CRDL was recognized as an innovative program to deliver educational content on the civil rights movement via the web. This online library contains 30 hours (about 450 clips) of historical news footage, a civil rights portal that allows users to access material on the movements from 100 libraries and other organizations nationwide, and supplemental instructional materials. It has been incorporated into public programs ranging from teacher training to television documentary.

The CRDL has received approximately a million page views since its 2008 launch. Using historical news film footage from WSB in Atlanta and WALB in Albany and held in the UGA Walter J. Brown Media Archives, it evolved from a partnership with the Digital Library of Georgia (the digitization initiative of GALILEO, the state’s virtual library), the library services office at the state Board of Regents and the Georgia Humanities Council, including its New Georgia Encyclopedia.

“Winning the Schwartz Prize is a wonderful accomplishment for the CRDL partners,” said P. Toby Graham, deputy university librarian and DLG director. “The 15 nominations for this year’s prize showcase some of the most imaginative and important work humanities councils are currently undertaking or supporting.”

Graham noted that earlier this year, CRDL was credited with a Southeastern Emmy award for a documentary produced by civil rights veteran and former U.S. ambassador Andrew Young and in 2008 was chosen as an outstanding program by the Georgia Historical Records Advisory Board.

“The Georgia Humanities Council is proud to be a partner in the Civil Rights Digital Library. Nowhere on the Web is there a more comprehensive collection on the American civil rights movement,” said Jamil Zainaldin, Georgia Humanities Council president. “The Schwartz Prize recognizes the high quality nature of the content of this site. It also recognizes the strong and creative partnerships that brought the CRDL to fruition.”

Dozens participated in building the Civil Rights Digital Library, including undergraduate and graduate students at UGA working under the direction of English professor Barbara McCaskill. Her students conducted research and authored instructional materials to accompany the digitized film footage.

One judge wrote, “In many ways, Georgia was an essentially important battleground and harbor for the modern Civil Rights Movement during the 1950s and 1960s. The state nurtured the movement’s most iconic figure, Martin Luther King Jr. It also was the site for the most memorable turning point in the early years of the struggle for the soul of the South—the long struggle against racial segregation and white racial tyranny in Albany. Perhaps the need for southerners—whites and blacks—to become more conversant with the Civil Rights Movement is second only in importance to a region-wide remembrance and interrogation of slavery and its affect on southern history and identity. What [Georgia] is doing with the Civil Rights Digital Library is an important step in that direction.”

The awards ceremony was held at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, N.M., as part of the 2010 National Humanities Conference. The Connecticut and New Hampshire councils also were awarded the prizes, named for Helen and Martin Schwartz and given annually to up to three programs for outstanding work in the public humanities.

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