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Southern Folklife Collection receives $986,000 grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation


(Chapel Hill, N.C.—June 29, 2015) – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has received a grant of $986,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This grant will help the Southern Folklife Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Library advance digitization of rare audio, video and motion picture films for preservation and access.


Activities for the grant, “Extending the Reach of Southern Audiovisual Sources,” will begin in August.


Scholars, musicians and even filmmakers such as Martin Scorcese have found inspiration in the Southern Folklife Collection (SFC) and its quarter-million sound and video recordings and millions of feet of motion picture film.


“We’ve become very good at digitizing smaller portions of the collection, but these methods do not scale up,” said Steve Weiss, director of the SFC. “Thanks to the Mellon Foundation, we will be able to solve problems of preservation and access for thousands of valuable items in volume, and deliver them online.”


The Library will use grant funds to build an authoritative data repository to support workflow; optimize processes in order to manage the collection and digitize recordings on a large scale; produce preservation-quality master files; and deliver research-quality access copies via online streaming.


Among the materials that the SFC will digitize are thousands of hours of field recordings from the collections of folklorists Guy Carawan, William Ferris, Archie Green and Mike Seeger, among many others.


The grant also includes funding that will allow the SFC to conduct research and share knowledge about the best methods for large-scale digitization of multimedia collections. A Southern Folklife Audiovisual Research Fellowship will engage visiting scholars with the work of the collection.


The grant builds upon a prior planning grant from the Mellon Foundation that developed recommendations for preserving the SFC’s fragile multimedia components before they begin to deteriorate.




About the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the nation’s first public university, is a global higher education leader known for innovative teaching, research and public service. A member of the prestigious Association of American Universities, Carolina regularly ranks as the best value for academic quality in U.S. public higher education. Now in its third century, the University offers 78 bachelor’s, 112 master’s, 68 doctorate and seven professional degree programs through 14 schools and the College of Arts and Sciences. Every day, faculty, staff and students shape their teaching, research and public service to meet North Carolina’s most pressing needs in all 100 counties. Carolina’s 304,000-plus alumni live in all 50 states and 150 countries, and more than 159,000 live in North Carolina.


For more information:


Library contact: Steve Weiss,


Communications and Public Affairs Contact: Helen Buchanan, (919) 445-8555,


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