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August 27, 2001

Library lands $120K to put Irish holdings online

By Nancy Brooks

Woodruff Library has been awarded a $120,000 grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation to provide online access to major Irish literary archives at Emory and Boston College (BC), two primary repositories of Irish literature in the United States. The library will digitize collection descriptions from the two schools and develop a searching interface that will allow scholars to quickly find appropriate materials.

The grant will open a gateway to some of the most important Irish literature collections held in this country and will significantly enhance the ability of scholars to discover relevant materials within these collections.

Eventually, other repositories holding Irish literary collections will be invited to add their own research aids to the website, enabling the resource to continue growing in size and scope.

These collections will form the foundation for what will become an increasingly comprehensive site for scholars and students in the field. Moreover, the project will model the role of technology in facilitating the use of primary resources.

“The collections of Emory and Boston College are an extraordinary resource for the study of 20th century Irish literary culture,” said Steve Enniss, curator of literary collections at Woodruff. “Electronic access to the Irish literary finding aids of these two extensive collections will not only create a vast combined resource for Irish literary scholarship but will reunite electronically a number of companion collections that are currently held in the two institutions.”

For example, Enniss said, Emory and BC hold complementary Abbey Theatre, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon and W.B. Yeats collections.

Emory’s Irish literary archives range from the Irish renaissance to the present. They include correspondence, manuscripts and related papers of Yeats and his circle, including the Abbey Theatre collection, the Gregory family papers and the Maude Gonne collection, as well as the literary archives of many of Ireland’s finest contemporary writers. These include the papers of Mahon, Thomas Kinsella, Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, Edna O’Brien and an important Heaney collection.

The BC Irish collections include literary figures Samuel Beckett (including the Barney Rosset and Alan Schneider collections), John Deane, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Sean O’Casey and Yeats. They also include important ancillary collections documenting the experience of the Irish in America.

Enniss will work with Susan Potts McDonald, head of technical services in Special Collections, to plan and provide oversight and consultation for the work. Naomi Nelson, director of digital archives in Special Collections, will assist in planning for the encoding, the search and retrieval interface, and gateway design.

The Delmas Foundation supports excellence in scholarship and the performing arts, particularly projects that promote wide access to research library collections and institutions that transmit cultural heritage.


Back to Emory Report August 27, 2001