Volume 29, Number 4, Winter 2007

NC ECHO's Multiple Models of Collaboration

Emily Gore, State Library of North Carolina

North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online (NC ECHO) began in 1999 as an LSTA-sponsored project centered at the State Library of North Carolina. One of the project's first goals was to conduct a survey of the cultural heritage institutions in North Carolina that are open to the public and have a permanent, non-living special collection. Initially, there were believed to be three to four hundred institutions meeting this definition in North Carolina, and the survey was estimated to take three years to complete. Almost seven years later, the survey is complete, approximately one thousand cultural heritage institutions, referred to as “NC ECHO partners,” have been identified, and close to nine hundred have agreed to a survey site visit. The data collected on the survey site visits is similar to the data collected by the Heritage Preservation survey that resulted in the production of the Heritage Health Index. NC ECHO is in the process of compiling and publishing this data, with an expected publication date of spring/summer 2008.

As a result of this survey, NC ECHO knows a great deal about all of the cultural heritage institutions in the state. That knowledge helps facilitate partnerships for digitization projects. Through the LSTA NC ECHO grant program, collaboration is encouraged, and more funding is available for these partnerships. As a result of this collaborative grant program, projects like the Eastern North Carolina Digital Library centered at East Carolina University, Green'N' Growin' centered at North Carolina State University, and a new partnership to digitize the maps of North Carolina between UNC-Chapel Hill and the State Archives have been created. In addition to the grant program, NC ECHO sponsors many continuing education opportunities for members of the North Carolina cultural heritage community, including a week-long Digitization Institute. One additional model currently under development is the distribution of CONTENTdm Acquisition Stations to smaller institutions in the state that have collections to digitize without the infrastructure to display them. This model is slated to be tested in 2008.

As the NC ECHO program enters its eighth year, the philosophy of facilitating collaboration has not changed. We simply believe that multiple models are necessary to meet this goal.

For more information, contact Emily Gore, State Library of North Carolina at 919-807-7414.