2015-02-04 / Front Page

Queens Library Project Will Help People Archive History

Queens Library’s “Culture in Transit” wins the Knight News Challenge on Libraries. The innovative project will help New Yorkers digitally archive their history.
Queens Library’s “Culture in Transit” wins the Knight News Challenge on Libraries. The innovative project will help New Yorkers digitally archive their history. New Yorkers will be able to easily document and share their histories online with a new project by three local library systems. The effort, called “Culture in Transit” creates a mobile toolkit that will scan and digitize print materials for public archiving. The project received funding on January 30, as a winner of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries, which provides new tools and approaches that leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities.

Culture in Transit is a joint project of the Queens Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Metropolitan New York Library Council.

Each scanned item will be housed in local digital archives and also in the Digital Public Library of America. Examples include photos and documents that help define a time and place in our history. Once digitized by Culture in Transit, they will be accessible to anyone who has an internet connection, anywhere in the world.

Since 2012, Queens Library has hosted prototype community history events around the borough of Queens with their Queens Memory program. Members of the public have brought photos, ephemera, and stories from home. Scanning days at local historical societies and museums have included the Bayside Historical Society, the Broad Channel Historical Society, and the Queens Museum.

Culture in Transit is one of 22 projects to win the Knight News Challenge. Together, the winners propose a range of ideas from digital platforms that improve access to education and information in developing countries, to a business innovation boot camp that supports local entrepreneurs. The winners will collectively receive $3 million in funding.

“There is a growing demand for libraries to evolve their role and become more dynamic, living platforms, responsive to community needs,” said John S. Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation. “The winners are working to reinvent the ways in which people experience the library, and providing citizens with the tools and information they require to contribute and strengthen our democracy.”

The Knight News Challenge accelerates media innovation by funding breakthrough ideas in news and information. Since 2007, Knight Foundation has reviewed more than 10,000 News Challenge applications and provided nearly $50 million in funding to 133 projects.
In addition to funding, winners receive support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisers to help advance their ideas. For more, visit newschallenge.org and follow #newschallenge on Twitter.

The Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org.

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