Documenting the Local Church

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Duke Divinity School library will lead a statewide effort this fall to gather the publications of churches and other religious bodies in North Carolina through a $30,000 planning grant awarded by the State Library of North Carolina. The Religion in North Carolina Digital Collection, a joint project with the libraries at University of North Carolina at Chapel and Wake Forest University, will use the grant funds to develop a list of titles to be digitized and made freely available.

The major effort of the planning grant will identify titles located in the Divinity School Library and other libraries across the state as well as seek permission to digitize copyrighted works. The collection will include the histories of local religious bodies (individual churches, synagogues, etc.) as well as publications of larger North Carolina denominations or cooperative networks. The libraries plan to eventually provide digital access and tools for searching across these significant works.

These materials are critical primary sources in research, said Andy Keck, associate director of the Divinity School Library and project manager.

“While some nationally produced materials are widely held, the works published by local or regional religious bodies can be quite rare among libraries,” he said. “The local church history, for example, is often self-published for members of the congregation yet indispensable for describing the development of a community, documenting involvement with other religious institutions and communities, illustrating struggles with broader societal events or issues, and illuminating particular religious disputes.”

The EZ LSTA (Library Services and Technology Act) Planning Grant is administered through the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. To learn more, contact Keck, (919) 660-3549 or andy.keck@duke.edu.