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UVM Marks National Library Week by Opening Center for Digital Initiatives

Published: April 16, 2007 by Jeff Wakefield


BURLINGTON, APRIL 16 – The University of Vermont Libraries launched the Center for Digital Initiatives (CDI) today, the first day of National Libraries Week, a new online resource that allows any user with Internet access to view and search documents and photographs from the university’s Special Collections. The CDI Web site is located at

Previously, library patrons had to visit Bailey/Howe Library and wear white gloves to view these often fragile materials. The CDI allows them to access UVM's signature collections in digital form from a remote location.

CDI’s initial collection – more will follow – is a rich, searchable archive of more than 1,000 pages of materials generated by eight Vermont Congressmen, including such well know figures as George Aiken and Robert Stafford, documenting topics ranging from the abolition of slavery to social life in Washington, D.C. The first document dates from 1818, the last from 2004. The collection also includes photographs.

The collection is organized in categories that grew out of recurrent themes in the materials: Dairy and the U.S. Congress, Letters Home from Congress and Speeches.

Leahy, Jeffords secured funding

An initial grant of $250,000 to develop the CDI was secured in 2005 through the joint efforts of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and former U.S. Senator James Jeffords, which enabled UVM Libraries to purchase hardware and software, hire a digital librarian and build the center’s first digital collections.

"I'm so pleased I was able to work with Senator Jeffords on this project that brackets Vermont's past and present," Senator Leahy said. "CDI creatively harnesses modern technology to open windows to earlier periods of Vermont's history. By making these archives more accessible, it will also make them more useful."

"We’re very grateful to both Senator Leahy and former Senator Jeffords for their insight into the importance of this innovative project and their support of it," said Daniel Mark Fogel, UVM president. “CDI represents the library of the future. It allows UVM to make its library holdings available to the entire world, significantly facilitating access, collaboration and the creation of new knowledge.”

"We chose to begin our digitization efforts with some of our most interesting Congressional papers, so we could highlight both Vermont's unique contributions to public policy and one of the university’s major collection strengths,” said Mara Saule, dean of libraries and learning resources.

Significant growth in future

In addition to those of Aiken (1892-1984) and Stafford (1913-2006), the CDI collection contains documents authored by Samuel Crafts (1768-1853), Jacob Collamer (1791-1865), Justin Morrill (1810-1898) and Warren Austin (1877-1962).

Also available are photographs of North Danville, Vt. from around 1900, which depict agricultural landscapes, logging, mills, barn raisings and railroad bridges, providing a visual legacy of Vermont’s agricultural, industrial and community history.

The digital collection unveiled today will grow significantly in future years. Archivists hope to digitize selections from the papers of the other Vermont House and Senate members held by Special Collections, which date from 1791. Special Collections holds significant collections of 22 Vermont House and Senate members, and those of 52 members in total.

In addition to CDI’s emphasis on public policy papers, plans call for the digitization of resources such as maps, photographs, artists books, newspapers, and the literature of agriculture in Vermont.

New material will be added on a daily basis.

This project is funded through the Institute of Museum and Library Services by an Act of Congress, in accordance with the FY 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Bill. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute for Museum and Library Service.