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Feds’ $50,000 helps digitize Lincoln texts

A federal grant will help digitize manuscripts that make up the Lincoln Collection, now housed at the Allen County Public Library.

The library board accepted the $50,000 grant Tuesday and is now waiting for final approval from the Indiana State Library, which distributes the federal library services and technology grants, said Curt Witcher, the local library’s genealogy manager.

Manuscripts and clippings that were part of the closed Lincoln Museum’s $20 million collection are now housed in the main library’s rare-book collection.

Artifacts from the collection are housed at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.

Only scholars and researchers can access the documents and texts. But local library officials hope to provide digital copies of the texts on the library’s Web site – opening the vast collection to teachers, students and the general public.

Library officials estimate it will cost $630,000 to $650,000 to digitize the entire Lincoln Collection, Witcher said.

The Friends of the Lincoln Collection gave the library $100,000 in September to begin the process.

Internet Archives, a non-profit working out of the library’s basement, will create the digital images, he said.

Witcher applied for the federal money in November and will likely continue seeking federal money and other grants in the years ahead until the project is complete, he said.

“The faster we can get the money, the faster we can digitize,” Witcher said. “We are well on our way.”

Beginning in January, visitors to the library’s Web site will see new Lincoln items added daily by clicking on the 16th president’s image, Witcher said.

“People are going to see a steady stream of digitized Lincoln material,” he said. “It’ll be awesome.”