University News

UCLA Library receives major gift for project focused on ephemeral media of Middle East

Facebook posts, tweets, photos among resources to be digitized, preserved

The UCLA Library has received a grant of $3.4 million from the Arcadia Fund to launch an initiative to digitize, preserve and provide broad public access to print items, images, and multimedia and social networking resources produced in the Middle East.
Increasingly, the day-to-day reality of current events in the Middle East is documented not in the pages of printed newspapers but through Facebook postings, tweets, smartphone photos and other informal ephemeral media. The new International Digitizing Ephemera Project will focus on collecting this documentation, organizing it and making it available, together with digitized versions of relevant print items, to offer primary sources that students and scholars can utilize and build upon in instruction and research.
"Over the past several years, the pace of political and cultural change in the Middle East has been breathtaking, and this initiative will enable us to capture and provide access to non-traditional documentation of these earthshaking events," said UCLA University Librarian Gary E. Strong. "We are deeply grateful to Arcadia for its exemplary generosity and for sharing our vision of the importance of this region and these new research materials."
The UCLA Library will collaborate with three international partners on the five-year project. One of the partners, the National Library of Israel, has already been identified; the two remaining ones will be chosen by the project director and advisory board.
The project is expected to offer a model that other institutions can adopt for collaborative international preservation and access activities. In the long term, the UCLA Library also hopes to expand it to other areas of the world, such as eastern Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands and Central America, where traditional documentation of events and communities is lacking and researchers must rely on ephemeral primary sources.
Arcadia is the charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin. Since its inception in 2001, Arcadia has awarded grants in excess of $200 million. Arcadia works to protect endangered culture and nature. Arcadia has made several major donations to the UCLA Library, the most recent being a $5 million, five-year gift to support transformative change in developing, preserving and making collections accessible.
The UCLA Library, ranked among the top research libraries in the U.S., is a campus-wide network of libraries serving programs of study and research in many fields. Its collections encompass more than 9 million volumes, as well as archives, audiovisual materials, corporate reports, government publications, microforms, technical reports and other scholarly resources. More than 100,000 serial titles are received regularly. The UCLA Library also provides access to a vast array of digital resources, including reference works, electronic journals and other full-text titles and images.   
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