Dec. 10, 1999-Jan. 13, 2000
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U.Va. gets $1 million IBM grant to develop e-business technologies
NEH challenge grant will boost E-text Center endowment
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Entrepreneurial spirit continues to feed Frank Batten's success

NEH challenge grant will boost E-text Center endowment

By Melissa Norris

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a challenge grant to the University Library's Electronic Text Center. With this grant of $200,000, to be matched four-to-one by private fundraising over a four-year period, the library will create a $1 million endowment that will be used to expand one of the world's most prominent and useful online cultural and research sites.

A portion of the NEH funds will go immediately to train and support graduate students, as well as to keep computer hardware and software up-to-date, and to provide user support. Once the endowment is fully funded, it will provide tens of thousands of dollars every year for the E-text Center's primary goals: to build and maintain an Internet-accessible collection of texts and images in the humanities and to nurture a user community adept at the creation of these materials.

"This grant comes at the perfect time, as we are working to build on our already substantial accomplishments in the digital world to create 'the library of tomorrow' here at Virginia," said University Librarian Karin Wittenborg.

The E-text Center started in 1992 with one English graduate student -- David Seaman, who is now its director -- at a desk with a personal computer.

Deputy University Librarian Kendon Stubbs saw the need for libraries to take advantage of emerging computer technologies and championed the center's growth. "It is now a model for libraries worldwide," Wittenborg said.

The E-text Center provides access to over 45,000 electronic texts online and hosts a myriad of web sites created by faculty for teaching and learning. The site provides access to texts in English and 13 other languages, including innovative sites in Japanese and Chinese literature, as well as subjects ranging from Samuel Taylor Coleridge to the Salem witch trials. The E-text web server receives over 80,000 individual accesses per day, making it a prime cultural outreach vehicle of the University.

All along, the center has been a leader in setting standards for the coding and delivery of texts in order to guarantee universal access. It has also garnered substantial funding for individual projects, including two major grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create an archive of images and texts from rare first editions of early American fiction.

"Several friends of the library have already contributed nearly $100,000 in cash and pledges that can be counted toward the NEH challenge," according to Hoke Perkins, director of development for electronic services.

For more information about the E-text Center, visit the web site at call Director David Seaman at 924-3230.


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