Christopher G. Vinson
Head of Library Technology
In 2010, the Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded Clemson University a National Leadership Grant to collaborate with the U.S. National Park Service on the Open Parks Network, a collaborative, multi-faceted project that has resulted in the digitization of over 350,000 items housed in the libraries, museums, and archives of our nation’s treasured parks, historic sites, and other protected areas, all made freely and publicly available through an online repository. The repository reflects a diverse mix of collections and include items such as photographs, maps, slides, architectural drawings, management reports, glass-plate negatives, and manuscripts. This project has been an intriguing and unique case study in the dynamics of the relationship between a university and a federal agency; both aim for a common goal but have very different methods of achieving it. Although each organization had its own set of challenges to face and expectations to meet, both were also able to come together to create a multidisciplinary resource that impacts a wide range of researchers and sets an example for information management and discovery in parks at the dawn of the National Park Service’s second century of stewardship. This session will explore the many facets of the Open Parks Network, the importance of building partnerships and developing trust, the steps we took to get where we are now, and our hopes for its continued growth and sustainability.