Correction: A previous version of this article said the winner of the award will be the subject of a documentary, but they will actually be the subject of an audio recording. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, located inside of Wilson Library, was named a finalist for the nation’s highest library award.
Given to libraries and museums across the United States by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service is the highest honor in the nation for a museum or library.
The heritage center is a collaboration of UNC's University Libraries and the State Library of North Carolina. Established in 2009, the center works to digitize yearbooks, newspapers and photographs. It focuses on underrepresented groups throughout North Carolina history.
Cal Shepard, state librarian of North Carolina, recognizes the impact the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center has on state and nationwide education.
“The Digital Heritage Center is an invaluable resource in North Carolina to institutions large and small,” Shepard said in a press release. “They combine statewide leadership with on-site guidance and assistance to ensure that one-of-a-kind resources can be accessed across the state, nation and the world.”
The center has been nominated for an award once before, but the library has never been nominated for an award of this caliber. Lisa Gregory, program coordinator of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, said the library is more than honored by the nomination.
“It is an incredible feat to have received national recognition for the work we do," Gregory said. “It is a testament to the collaborative nature of library archives and museums in North Carolina. It’s an incredible honor to be recognized like this on a national scale and amongst so many wonderful peers. To be chosen would be mind-blowing.”
Gregory believes a major factor that sets the library apart is the way they choose to give a voice to the underrepresented groups of North Carolina.
“We really focus on meeting the needs of smaller institutions and underrepresented parts of the state," Gregory said. “We have gone out on the road and made it a point to focus on collections that share voices that aren’t heard. We focus on underrepresented populations in North Carolina, and those things are a major part of diversifying the collection.”
The winner of the award will receive $5,000 as well as a trip to Washington, D.C. Following the trip, stories of community members impacted by the winning institution are collected and recorded. The recording will then be preserved in the Library of Congress.
Gregory has high hopes for UNC’s collection in the competition and for the future of the North Carolina Digital Heritage in Wilson Library.
“I think winning will allow us to reach more institutions who may be interested in working with us," Gregory said. “Winning would allow us to spread the word about those who have not heard about us yet. We currently work with people in 78 counties in North Carolina, and we hope to eventually reach all 100.”
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