[Coll_Collab] Aluka: digital library of scholarly resources re. Africa

Martha L Smalley martha.smalley at yale.edu
Wed Feb 7 10:16:13 EST 2007

Free preview access to Aluka is available to 
JSTOR participants until 30 June 2007: http://www.aluka.org/.

>>>From: Kevin.Guthrie at ithaka.org 
>>>[<mailto:Kevin.Guthrie at ithaka.org>mailto:Kevin.Guthrie at ithaka.org]
>>>Sent: Monday, February 05, 2007 1:05 PM
>>>To: Kevin Guthrie
>>>Subject: JSTOR Collaborates To Offer Free Preview Of Aluka
>>>Dear JSTOR Participant –
>>>I am writing to introduce an exciting new 
>>>initiative – Aluka – that we believe has the 
>>>potential to transform the availability of, 
>>>and ease of access to primary source materials 
>>>from and about Africa. Although interest in 
>>>understanding all aspects of the development 
>>>of Africa and its peoples is growing around 
>>>the world, it is at present extremely 
>>>difficult for scholars and students, both 
>>>inside of Africa and elsewhere, to find or get 
>>>access to valuable scholarly content and 
>>>digital collections that can serve as the 
>>>basis for thoughtful study. Our vision is for 
>>>Aluka to have the same kind of impact on the 
>>>ease of access to important collections from 
>>>Africa that JSTOR has had on access to the backfiles of scholarly journals.
>>>Aluka is an international, collaborative, 
>>>not-for-profit effort that is building a 
>>>networked digital library of scholarly 
>>>resources from and about Africa. The name, 
>>>'Aluka,' is derived from a Zulu word meaning 
>>>'to weave', reflecting Aluka’s mission to 
>>>connect resources and scholars from around the 
>>>world. Africans have collected, protected, and 
>>>preserved materials in archives and libraries 
>>>on the continent. Scholars, students, and 
>>>researchers who have studied and visited 
>>>Africa have also amassed collections that are 
>>>now held all over the world. Aluka will not be 
>>>just a database of content. Instead, Aluka 
>>>will serve the scholarly community by tapping 
>>>into the unprecedented capacity of the web to 
>>>connect those who hold African collections 
>>>with those who want to use them. Through a 
>>>collaborative effort that will depend both on 
>>>contributed collections and on local capacity 
>>>building, Aluka will provide the technological 
>>>and organizational platform that will focus 
>>>the collective efforts of the scholarly community in a way that benefits all.
>>>To introduce Aluka to the broader scholarly 
>>>community, we are pleased to announce that 
>>>institutions participating in JSTOR are being 
>>>offered a free preview period for Aluka. The 
>>>preview period will begin today, and continue 
>>>through the end of June. Preview access to 
>>>Aluka for your institution has already been 
>>>initiated through institutional IP 
>>>authentication. Simply point your browser to 
>>>www.aluka.org to try out the resource.
>>>To demonstrate the potential of this new 
>>>collaborative model, we have facilitated the 
>>>development of a content area focused on 
>>>African Plants. This set of digital materials 
>>>now has over 280,000 objects in 21 
>>>collections, including plant specimens, 
>>>photographs, art, reference works, and 
>>>archival records of historical expeditions to 
>>>Africa. It has now reached a level of scale 
>>>that is not only enormously valuable in its 
>>>own right, but also provides a useful example 
>>>in demonstrating the vast potential of Aluka’s 
>>>approach. The materials in the African Plants 
>>>content area were contributed by over 50 
>>>herbaria, museums, botanical gardens, and 
>>>universities in Africa, Europe, and the U.S. 
>>>The content will be of interest not only to 
>>>botanists, but also to students and scholars 
>>>in many related academic disciplines, 
>>>including ecology, ethnobotany, history, 
>>>biology, anthropology, economic development, and environmental studies.
>>>In looking at Aluka, we hope you will not 
>>>focus solely on the value of the African 
>>>Plants content area, but rather that you will 
>>>envision the potential impact of this concept 
>>>and visualize how this approach could be 
>>>followed to develop collections in a wide 
>>>variety of disciplines. We already are 
>>>developing two additional content areas: 
>>>Struggles for Freedom in Southern Africa, and 
>>>African Cultural Heritage Sites and 
>>>Landscapes; and we intend to make that content 
>>>available as the preview period progresses.
>>>Aluka is eager to work with you during this 
>>>preview period to evaluate the potential of 
>>>this powerful concept. We hope that you will 
>>>feel free to provide us with reactions and 
>>>perspective, and that you will consider 
>>>contributing collections as well as supporting 
>>>the core enterprise as we develop the economic 
>>>framework to sustain the effort on an ongoing 
>>>basis. To underwrite the costs of sustaining 
>>>Aluka, we do anticipate establishing fees for 
>>>participation in the Aluka network for 
>>>institutions outside of Africa. These fees 
>>>must be affordable in order to promote maximum 
>>>availability of the African collections across 
>>>the scholarly community, while also validating 
>>>that the concept is worthy of support. We look 
>>>forward to consulting with you during this 
>>>preview period to establish the appropriate 
>>>levels of support that are justifiable.
>>>If you would like to keep apprised of and to 
>>>provide input into developments at Aluka, 
>>>please contact info at aluka.org. Aluka is 
>>>interested in any and all feedback that you 
>>>might be willing to share about both the content and the platform.
>>>As always, we appreciate your continued 
>>>support of JSTOR, and we hope that you’ll find 
>>>Aluka as interesting and compelling as we do.
>>>Best regards,
>>>Kevin Guthrie
>>>Note: Aluka is the third initiative (the first 
>>>two being Portico and NITLE) launched from 
>>>Ithaka, a not-for-profit organization with a 
>>>mission to promote innovation in higher 
>>>education by providing research, strategic 
>>>services, and infrastructure support to 
>>>promising initiatives (www.ithaka.org). 
>>>Start-up support for Ithaka and Aluka has been 
>>>provided by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, 
>>>The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and 
>>>The Stavros Niarchos Foundation. If you are 
>>>interested in learning more about Aluka, 
>>>please see the attached paper that I have 
>>>written jointly with Tom Nygren, Aluka’s Executive Director.
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