The Chancellor's Instructional Technology Awards, initiated by the late Michael Hooker and offered in 1996 and 1997, funded a number of projects that may be considered the predecessors of the UNC Digital Library Project. The 1996-97 awards included funding for a project called the Multimedia Database Prototype, a collaborative effort between the Medical School, the Classics Department, and the Religion Department. The database was developed, but in the end it was not flexible enough to meet the needs of the Humanities departments involved.

The 1997-98 awards funded a number of new efforts by various departments to create image and/or media databases. Among these were the Apollo Project (PI G. Kenneth Sams), the History Department's Technology in the Undergraduate Seminar project (TUGS) (PI Russ Van Wyk), and the Religion Department's image database (PI Carl Ernst).

In 1999, the Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee (FITAC) announced a request for proposals for the IBM/UNC-CH Curricular Innovation grants.  It was made clear that the committee was not interested in funding additional individual departmental-level image or media database projects.  Project participants from Apollo and TUGS drafted a proposal to unite several existing projects, with Russ Van Wyk as the PI.  FITAC funded the proposal, expanding its scope to include recommendations for campus-wide standards and infrastructure. Hugh Cayless was hired as the project manager and Noel Fiser and Tom Elliott were hired as Graduate Assistants.  An advisory committee was established to provide oversight for the project.

Following NCSU's Picture This series in the fall of 1999, representatives from UNC-CH, NCSU and Duke decided to begin collaborating on a model for digital libary services that would facilitate resource-sharing among institutions.  This consortium came to be known as the Triangle Digital Libraries Group (TDLG).  The consortium roduced a prototype for the model.

Since 2000, UNC has been working on an implementation of the model produced by the TDLG. During the 2001 fall semester we began supporting the instructional use of the system for courses that make significant use of images and audio files. Student and faculty response to the system has been positive. However, due to sporadic funding for initial development, we have only been able to support an average of about fifteen courses each semester. We hope to have the necessary tools in place to begin expanding the services by the fall 2003 semester.

The Digital Library Services application is located at Access is currently limited to members of the UNC community.

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