Ameritech to donate $2M for document digitization

Telecommunications company Ameritech Corp. said it will donate $2 million to the Library of Congress to help local libraries, state archives, universities and other nonfederal institutions digitize their American history collections for inclusion in the National Digital Library program.

The contribution would enable libraries and other organizations throughout the country to place on-line as many as a million pages of images of important historical documents. The Library of Congress would post the images on its World Wide Web site, making them available to students and researchers who now have access to them only by visiting the repositories where the originals are kept.

Guy Lamolinara, a spokesman for the library, said many institutions do not have the money to digitize their holdings. He said it costs the library $2 to $6 per page to create images of such documents as photographs, political papers and literary manuscripts for its on-line collection.

A committee chosen by the Library of Congress, composed mainly of top librarians from throughout the country, will select the first grant recipients next year. Rick Aspen, a spokesman for Ameritech, said the company expects to issue 10 to 15 grants of $50,000 to $70,000 each year for the next three years.

He said the panel would seek projects that are the "most widely interesting to the overall population."

"This public/private partnership will greatly enrich our national heritage by bringing together a diversity of library collections," said Elizabeth Martinez, executive director of the American Library Association. "The goal now must be to make sure that every library is on-line so that all people can take advantage of these riches."

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