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FOCUS ON COLLECTIONS: Reclaiming the Everglades

The University of Miami (UM) Library, in partnership with Florida International University (FIU) Library and the Historical Mu- seum of Southern Florida, received a 1998 Li- brary of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Li- brary Grant of $137,188 for “Reclaiming the Ever- glades: South Florida’s Natural History, 1884-1934.”

The three institutions will digitize historical ma- terials that document the evolution of the Florida Ev- erglades. Upon completion, the partnership will merge a series of separate yet in- terrelated collections at four institutions into a single re- source for students, schol- ars, researchers, and other individuals. The project will digitize approximately 10,000 images, letters, documents, and pages of printed text.

A book (c. 1887) about the adventures of the club that explored Lake Okechobee in the Florida Everglades.

This project represents the culmination of years of work by librarians and ar- chivists at these institutions. The invaluable support provided by the Library of Congress and Ameritech Corporation will help us create this unique historical and educational resource on the Everglades for the citizens of the world.

Gail Clement, who serves as project director for the Everglades Information Network & Digital Library project, a collaborative effort of FIU Libraries and Everglades National Park, observed that “‘Reclaiming the Everglades’ … demonstrates the commitment and determination of South Florida’s libraries to advance our knowledge about the past and present state of the Everglades.” Rebecca Smith, archivist at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, also hailed the project for its inter-institutional cooperation.

The Everglades, a unique subtropical ecosystem, bears a rich and troubled history. As this fragile wilderness wavers on the edge of environmental annihilation, the textual and visual history of this natural treasure also bor- ders on destruction. The preservation of our natural resources and the survival of its textual and visual history are linked in this consortial project. Don L. Bosseau, director of libraries at UM, said, “This grant represents the unique joining of modern technology with rare and unique documentation of the history and ecology of the Everglades. The project is a precursor to the new ap- proaches that libraries are embracing to enhance access to intellectual content.”

Laurence Miller, execu- tive director of FIU Library, commented, “We appreciate the opportunity this repre- sents to enhance the content of the Everglades Informa- tion Network, based at FIU, and welcome the opportu- nity to share the technology that has been developed in this effort.”

Primary source materials proposed for digitization include writings, correspondence, photographs, and related materials from many individuals and organizations. The selected assemblage represents the records of politicians, landown- ers, real estate companies, agriculturalists, sci- entists, naturalists, journalists, Indian rights ac- tivists, engineers, Native Americans, and oth- ers involved in the exploration, exploitation, or conservation of the South Florida environment.—William E. Brown Jr., principal investigator and head of archives and special collections, University of Miami, wbrown@ umiami. ir. miami.edu.

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