September 26, 2007 -- Keene, NH. NELLCO, Inc., a non-profit consortium of 101 law libraries in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a significant grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the IMLS National Leadership Grants program. The grant award of $364,150.00 will aid NELLCO in funding a two-year project to develop a Universal Search Solution.
The NELLCO "Universal Search Solution" will be based on open standards and open source software, and will result in the creation of a physical master index of material, including participating library catalogs, as well as subscription-based databases and open content, special collections, and other resources that a participating library wishes to make discoverable to its patrons.
According to Tracy L. Thompson, NELLCO’s Executive Director, the project is a response to the shortcomings of the federated search solutions on the market. "Law libraries spend an enormous amount on electronic resources for their users. We want those resources to be exploited as fully as possible to enhance scholarship and inform the body of knowledge in the legal arena. But connecting library users to our e-resources is an ongoing challenge. The idea for this project came from one of our member institutions, Franklin Pierce Law Center, when Director Judy Gire charged her staff with finding the best federated search tool for their needs. After careful analysis the committee reported back that the federated search paradigm was inherently flawed. They envisioned a different approach and recommended that NELLCO harness our resources to explore a solution. Out of those efforts the NELLCO Universal Search Solution project evolved.
Our technology partner for this project is Index Data, a consulting and software development enterprise originally based in Denmark, with offices in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Founded in 1994, Index Data specializes in solutions for distributed information management and discovery. Index Data’s philosophy of open source development and their commitment to libraries and library service make them the perfect partner in this endeavor. They have been leaders in the development of many library solutions, including work with the Library of Congress, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, and the Danish Library Authority."
National Leadership Grants help libraries and museums collaborate, build digital resources, and conduct research and demonstration projects. The selected projects are national models that will help foster individual achievement, community responsibility, and life-long learning. In 2007 the IMLS received 213 grant applications under this program and award 43 grants totaling more than $18 million. IMLS Director Anne-Imelda M. Radice notes that "Cultural institutions energize their communities by not just preserving culture, heritage, and knowledge, but by supporting life-long learning and engagement. National Leadership Grants harness the work of the best of these institutions. By promoting innovation and partnerships, they allow these institutions to create national models that address the challenges of the broader library and museum communities, and help strengthen their impact."
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Its mission is to grow and sustain a "Nation of Learners" because life-long learning is essential to a democratic society and individual success. Through its grant making, convenings, research and publications, the Institute empowers museums and libraries nationwide to provide leadership and services to enhance learning in families and communities, sustain cultural heritage, build twentyfirst-century skills, and increase civic participation. To learn more about the Institute, please visit: http://www.imls.gov