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California State Library supports Local History Digital Resources Project

The California State Library, through an effective program called the Local History Digital Resources Project (LHDRP), offers grants to local libraries that want to digitize their special collections.  The LHDRP supports staff member attendance at digitizing trainings.  It gives libraries access to a cataloging tool.  It provides scanning services for 200 images and it allows $5000 for project costs.  

Marin County Free Library’s postcard of a 1905 Kentfield real estate office.
(Photo courtesy -- Marin County Free Library)

More than 40 public, academic and special libraries have participated in the LHDRP since 1999. Today, California library staff from Modoc to Calexico are digitizing their manuscripts, photographs, and works of art and over 18,000 of California’s historic items are on one website, accessible to users worldwide.  Because of the skills staff have gained through LHDRP, students, journalists, genealogists, and web surfers can view, save, and print California rarities such as Marin County Free Library’s postcard of a 1905 Kentfield real estate office that they couldn’t access before.

Library leaders call LHDRP “essential”

Feedback about LHDRP from people in California’s library community has been positive. Susan Jones of the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research says, “The experience gained by participating in the Local History Digital Resources Project has proven essential to our efforts in moving forward in this digital direction.” Anji Brenner of Mill Valley Public Library says, “Our [Mill Valley Public Library] Foundation is using our [digitization] project as a springboard for securing an endowment to assure … funding for digitizing the [library’s] entire collection.” And Donna Golden of the Chula Vista Public Library remarks that LHDRP allowed the library to start digitizing its collection “by supplying training and supplies for the Local History Librarian and Library Technician.”

Collaboration with the University of California

Although other states have created statewide digitization projects that incorporate state portals to their content, LHDRP differs in that it leverages an existing statewide access point for historical material associated with the premier state supported academic institution, the University of California.  The expertise of university staff enables even the smallest library to provide enriched statewide access to their digital collection using the most current search and retrieval technologies.

Library users can access California libraries’ digitized items through a single interface on Calisphere which the University of California’s California Digital Library (CDL) hosts.  CDL collaborates with the California State Library to provide technical assistance to libraries on digitization, and to publish and preserve the digitized collections.  The Calisphere web site is available at: Though the Calisphere gateway is specifically tailored to the K-12 community and includes California Curriculum standards as a basis of arrangement, visitors can search the entire collection as well.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services provides the funds for the Project through a Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant administered in California by the State Librarian.

For more information about the Local History Digital Resources Project, please contact Ira Bray, Technology Consultant, Library Development Services, California State Library at 916-653-0171 or





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