CLEMSON — Clemson University Libraries received a grant to make more than 3 million pages of resources held by the parks — 150,000 artifacts, photographs and other objects — and selections from the National Park Service directors’ papers in the Libraries’ Special Collections available digitally.

The $773,444 National Leadership grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will fund the collaborative Open Parks Grid. Clemson is one of 34 institutions to receive funding in this category and the only one in South Carolina.

Clemson University is contributing in-kind matching funds of $799,167, for a project total of $1.57 million.

The Open Parks Grid will supply information on parks in the southeast United States. It will let park professionals and researchers discuss parks issues and will allow the display of park research and project funding needs. The goal is to unite the highly distributed parks community and to provide access to materials that have never before been made available. The collections to be digitized include many technical reports, journals, photographs, artifacts and other printed material used by the parks that are not currently available online.

Faculty and staff members in the libraries; the parks, recreation and tourism management department (PRTM); and Clemson Computing and Information Technology are collaborating with the Purdue University Libraries; the Southeast Region of the National Park Service; and the state parks in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to develop an information gateway for parks information.

“Open Parks Grid represents a new kind of cyber-environment,” said Jim Bottum, chief information officer and vice provost at Clemson. “Historically, these technologies have been developed in science and engineering communities. It is exciting to see this emerging interdisciplinary team developing tools to serve the parks community,”

“The receipt of the grant from IMLS will allow us to move the work of the Open Parks Grid at Clemson University forward at a new level,” said Lawrence Allen, dean of the College of Health, Education, and Human Development at Clemson. “This effort is critical to the sustainability of our park systems at a local, state and national level so we can preserve for everyone’s enjoyment the wonderful natural, historical and cultural resources of this country.”

“By working with colleagues across campus, with other academic institutions and with federal agencies like the National Park Service, we see the Open Parks Grid as a model for preservation, access and delivery of unique materials to multiple audiences for research and discovery,” said libraries Dean Kay L. Wall.

David Vela, southeast regional director of the National Park Service, said, “This is a great day for Clemson University and the National Park Service as we celebrate the partnership of and the funding for the Open Parks Grid. This is an opportunity to leverage the great capacity of our mutual institutions to further science and operation interests.”

The principal investigator for the project is Emily Gore, director of digital initiatives and information technology for Clemson Libraries. Co-principal investigators are Elizabeth Baldwin, assistant professor in PRTM at Clemson, and Michael Witt of the Purdue University Libraries.

Other key personnel include:

  • Brett Wright, PRTM department chairman, and Fran Maniella, visiting scholar in PRTM
  • Jill Gemmill, David White, Chris Jones, Barry Johnson, Scott Hammel and Nicholas McElveen in Computing and Information Technology at Clemson
  • Robin Chambers and Joshua Morgan in Clemson University Libraries.