Friday, February 6, 2009

Scanner Ready! Or, is History Missing the Stimulus Boat?

Dan Cohen has an excellent post, Scanner-Ready, over at his blog Digital Humanities. Contemplating the stimulus package and the search for "shovel-ready" projects, Cohen notes:

"But one obvious project that’s also ready to go on day one is the scanning of the contents of the Library of Congress. Today there’s a ceremonial event at the LC to showcase the thousands of books already scanned as part of the LC’s partnership with the Internet Archive, and to highlight the potential of a mass digitization project. It goes without saying that this project could be extended easily to other cultural heritage institutions."

I was making a similar point about the same time with myCall for a New Federal Writer's Project. And today I see that the AHA Today blog linked to my call in their weekly "What We're Reading" post.

Is history missing the boat on the stimulus package? I see that arts leaders recently rallied in D.C. for a chunk of the stimulus. “We wanted to make sure arts were not left out of the recovery,” said Robert L. Lynch, president of Americans for the Arts, a national lobbying group. “The artist’s paycheck is every bit as important as the steelworker’s paycheck or the autoworker’s paycheck.” (So far they have picked up a $50 million line item in the stimulus bill for their efforts, though that of course might get stripped out in the Senate.) Education is making out like a bandit: Stimulus Plan Would Provide Flood of Aid to Education. (Flood = $140 billion.) But where is history in the stimulus plan?

(See also Greatest Achievements of American Socialism, a slide show of worthy New Deal projects at

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