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Federal grant for Southeast will improve access to thousands of historical items

Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College will be able to significantly enhance public access to thousands of historical items held in its Appalachian Archives.

The $131,028 grant was made through the Institutes Museums for America program. SKCTCs Appalachian Archives project was one of 160 grants awarded in the 2011 competition, which received more than 480 applications.

The Archives began in the 1980s with oral histories collected by the Colleges Appalachian Studies students. The audio recordings document the lives and memories of thousands of residents from the Central Appalachian region. Over the years, the Archives has also become a depository for the regions visual arts, music, photographs and publications in addition to thousands of other items chronicling the history and culture of area coal camps.

SKCTC Archivist Larry LaFollette said, The growth of the Archives from 600 oral histories in 1990 to more than 70,000 items today has made it vitally important that the College make this vast collection more accessible to the public, researchers and the college faculty.

According to LaFollette, the funds will be used to catalog, photograph and scan the collections and then to develop a free online public access catalog. The catalog will be available on the Colleges website and linked through the Kentucky Virtual Library.

The grant will also pay for a consultant to assist the Archives in developing collections management policies and a risk management plan. A newly formed Advisory Council will help guide the project, which is expected to take at least three years to complete.
IMLS is the primary source of federal support for the nations 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institutes mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

Commenting on the Museums for America program IMLS Director Susan Hildreth said, We are pleased to support museums through investments in high priority, high value activities that benefit communities throughout the U.S. These museums, small and large, will help to educate and inspire the public for years to come.