PHILADELPHIA, PA, April 3, 2014 - Penn Libraries is thrilled to announce that it has received two National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) awards amounting to $530,000 to fund Humanities Collections and Reference Resources projects in the Libraries' Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

An award of $300,000 will support a three-year project, "The New Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts: A Research Tool for Tracking the Current and Historic Locations of Manuscripts," directed by Lynn Ransom, Project Manager for the Schoenberg Database of Manuscripts (SDBM), who wrote and submitted the grant. Started by Lawrence J. Schoenberg (C'53, WG'56; PAR'93) in 1997, the SDBM is the largest repository of data on medieval and early modern manuscripts available to scholars and is a leading resource for the study of the provenance of manuscript books produced before 1600. The grant will support the redevelopment of SDBM to allow researchers at all levels to refine, contribute, and improve data in an open access environment available to anyone with an internet connection.

"Our goal," said Carton Rogers, Vice Provost and Director of Libraries at Penn, "is to create a global open-access tool that harnesses the knowledge of librarians, curators, and scholars to create a meta-catalogue for locating the world's manuscripts." Rogers believes the new SDBM can become a model for similar projects beyond the scope of pre-1600 manuscript collections, potentially transforming the ways in which historic documents are catalogued and researched on a global scale.

A grant of $230,000 will support a project directed by Nancy Shawcross, "Providing Global Access to Penn's Indic Manuscripts, circa 1527-1930." Shawcross wrote and submitted the grant and is the Curator of Manuscripts in Penn Libraries' Rare Book & Manuscripts Library. With the largest collection of Indic manuscripts in North America, Penn's collection comprises 3,050 discrete items and is considered the most substantial in the U.S. for studying the history of ancient and medieval scribal and literary traditions of South and Southeast Asia. The grant will enable Penn Libraries to catalog and create digital facsimiles for all of its holdings. The images will be available to view, download, and harvest free of charge via the website, at Penn in Hand: Selected Manuscripts, a discovery engine developed by the Penn Libraries for its digital collections.

Both projects add to Penn's expanding digital library programs, Digital Penn and Penn in Hand, which are enriching access to the University's primary source materials for teaching, research, and discovery, drawn from the distinctive curatorial expertise of the Kislak Center.