Revitalizing the Digital Library of the Caribbean: 4/1/2022 – 3/31/2026

The Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida were granted $2,000,000 over four years, by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a project to build and sustain the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) – reinforcing and strengthen the organization and its collections to allow dLOC’s community to flourish in the years to come.

Key elements of the project are below, and the full grant proposal is also available.

Instructors, please respond to our survey on Caribbean Studies and Open Educational Resources.


Through collaboration with dLOC partners to address unmet needs, the project will directly invest in the Caribbean institutions and people who comprise dLOC. The project will revitalize engagement with existing partners (75+) and associate partners (30+), and enable higher levels of sustained community and collections growth. The project will scaffold programmatic supports for executing activities such as digitization and preservation, copyright, and the ethical reuse of dLOC collections in teaching and research. Major initiatives include:

Refining a Menu of Sustainable Technical Assistance Services: Working with four different Caribbean-based partners’ faculty and staff members each year during Intensive Planning Engagements, the project team will learn and consult about needs relevant to their collections. Based on these engagements, long-term organizational strategies for future dLOC operational and programmatic systems will be developed and implemented to offer the best technical assistance services for its partners. The Intensive Planning Engagements are discussed below.

Establishing a Rights Advisory Network: The Network will be comprised of eight international experts: librarians and archivists; legal scholars; and Caribbean Studies researchers. They will address practical, day-to-day questions, as well as broader needs of dLOC partners and users. The Rights Advisory Network will provide sustained, collaborative assistance for topics relevant to copyright, ownership, and ethical uses of dLOC materials. As a complement to responding to day-to-day reference questions, the Network will develop web-based resources, and host virtual meetings on more complex issues, like the rights and ethics of ownership in oral histories. Network members receive an honorarium of $6,000 total over three years for their contribution of an estimated 20-30 hours per year.

Enriching Educational Resources for Higher Ed: Instructors will be compensated for documenting and sharing teaching resources, including assignments and lesson plans, contextualized primary source sets and datasets, course modules, and full courses. These materials will be shared through dLOC or elsewhere under open licenses to enable adaptation and reuse. There will be three open calls for proposals awarding over $100,000. College and university-level faculty, staff, and graduate students will receive stipends of $2,000 or $5,000, depending on the project’s complexity.

Documenting and Guiding for Future Engagement: Ten short handbooks (two to three per year) will be published in multiple languages to share knowledge about professional development topics such as exhibits, supporting student interns, preservation and disaster response, collection development and selection, digital journal publishing and additional topics determined from consultations with partners. These handbooks will provide a foundational set of information, along with annotated expert contacts and will enable dLOC to proactively address common partner requests.


As the operations host for dLOC, the University of Florida (UF) will administer an array of activities. Partnerships and collaborations are at the heart of dLOC, and community development is the focus of this project.

Technical Assistance Consultancy. All dLOC partner institutions are invited to collaborate on this project. Participation will support individual partners and our full community, and includes virtual meetings and engagement throughout the four-year grant period (which may include communication via email lists, WhatsApp, and other means as applicable, to share knowledge, technical assistance needs, and resources together). The time required for partner representative participation is expected to be an average of two hours per month. Partners may elect to participate at a higher level to realize improved outcomes. Each participating institution will receive $4,000.

Intensive Planning Engagements. 16 partner institutions will work with the Project Team in Intensive Planning Engagements (Intensives). During the Intensives, the Project Team will learn and consult about partner needs relevant to their collections. Each Intensive Planning Engagement will serve as a deep-dive into a collaborative exchange resulting in the development of a five-year plan that aligns available dLOC network assets to address partner needs. The Intensives will enable dLOC to create and refine a menu of sustainable organizational supports, spanning technologies, copyright, rights workflows, ethical rights, digital journal publishing, grant writing, and more. Reports on activities during the Intensive year, and five-year plans all will be shared with the full dLOC community with partner permissions, creating transparency throughout the community of practice and enabling each institution to learn from others. Total time required for each partner organization representative is expected to be approximately 140 hours during one full year, which includes participation in monthly meetings and quarterly reviews, and development of a final five-year plan at end of the Intensive engagement year. Each of the 16 partners will receive $10,000.


To support the project activities, learning and immediate and long-term impacts, consultants will be engaged as critical grant contributors.

Consultants for Caribbean Collections (two consultants in years 1-4): The consultants will focus on Caribbean collecting institution needs, especially in regards to collection development, collection management, selection of materials for digitization, and issues related to special collections, archives, acquisitions, and post-custodial collection creation and development. These consultants will be based in the Caribbean, with expertise in Caribbean collections/studies. The Collections Consultants will support focused work with Partners on particular collections, especially for those Partners involved in the Intensive Planning Engagements. These consultants will be part of the Project Team for meeting the immediate needs of Partners and for collaborating to develop and refine a menu of services to meet needs for collections and collection activities.

Consultants for Caribbean Collections & Digital Humanities. (two consultants in years 3-4): The consultants will support partners in developing local and external collaborations that build from collections to engagement in the Digital Humanities. Their work will identify ways in which to leverage the digital collections and library activities to create greater collaboration with local partner researchers and students, and to potentially support the development of new Digital Humanities programs. The consultants will collaborate with the partners engaged in Intensives to develop and execute plans that will meet their programmatic needs related to connecting collections and Digital Humanities, while also working to support the creation of the menu of services for all partners.

Consultant for Organizational Development (one consultant for years 1 and 3): The OD Consultant will work with the project team and the Deans of the two dLOC host institutions (UF and FIU) as well as the dLOC Executive Board, Scholarly Advisory Board, and partner representatives to understand the current status of dLOC as an organization, including benefits and successes, gaps, needs, and other factors for success and sustainability. The OD Consultant will utilize an asset-based approach focused on leveraging extant assets within dLOC to increase innovation and problem solving through shared resources. The consultancy will deliver recommendations regarding people and their roles, processes, and prioritization for changes, including adding new activities or resources.


The project will create three new positions: a new faculty position at UF, Caribbean Partnerships and Training Librarian, to be sustained by UF funds at the end of the grant; and two time-limited positions, a Project Coordinator and a Program Assistant, to support the project.

The Caribbean Partnerships Librarian is a tenure track library faculty position that provides leadership in planning, developing, and managing partnerships and training programs for dLOC. They provide facilitated leadership for existing partners and associate partners, as well as the broader community for Caribbean libraries and collections to support collaborative collection development, robust collaborative and partnership activities, and a full training program that enables collaboration and collective collection building. The Librarian will serve as the project manager for the Revitalizing project: supporting collaboration, serving on each of the Intensive Planning Engagements, co-facilitating the project team and consultants throughout the project, and supporting the collection and analysis of data from the Intensives to develop a dLOC five-year plan.

The Project Coordinator will support activities related to OER (open education resources) development, publishing, and OER guide creation, ensuring that OER materials are productively developed and shared for use in teaching and learning. The Coordinator will also support the production of resource handbooks for partners, ensuring that how-to expertise is communicated through published materials that are usable and maintainable for partners moving forward.

The Program Assistant will provide support for coordinating communication with all partners and participants regarding project activities, partner activities, Intensives, and other related work. The Program Assistant will also manage all payments to partners, consultants, editors, and Advisory Board members.


UF Team members with substantive contributions:

  • Laurie Taylor (PI), Senior Director for Library Technology & Digital Strategies and the dLOC Digital Scholarship Director, will 1) direct the overall project in collaboration with the Co-PIs, 2) directly supervise the Caribbean Partnerships Librarian, 3) collaborate with the Co-PIs and Partnerships Librarian to collect and synthesize data from the Intensives to develop the dLOC five-year plan, and 4) co-write the handbook for student intern participation.
  • Perry Collins (Co-PI), Copyright and OER Librarian and Copyright/Rights Liaison for dLOC, will 1) directly supervise the Program Coordinator, 2) lead the Rights Advisory Network and the OER team, and 3) collaborate with the PI, Co-PI, and Partnerships Librarian to collect and synthesize data from the Intensives to develop the dLOC five-year plan.
  • Brian Keith (Co-PI), Associate Dean for Administrative Services and Faculty Affairs, will 1) provide expertise and support for organizational development activities, 2) serve as the upper-level supervisor for the work of the Program Assistant and all related fiscal processing, 3) co-write the handbook for student intern’s participation, and 4) collaborate with the PI, Co-PI, and Partnerships Librarian to collect and synthesize data from the Intensives to develop the dLOC five-year plan.
  • Chelsea Johnston, Scholarly Publishing and Repository Librarian, will 1) support Partners in utilizing Open Journal Systems, 2) support other needs related to publishing including ethics, accessibility, and editorial work, and 3) will develop the handbook for digital journal publishing.
  • Todd Digby, Chair of Library Technology Services will 1) be responsible for the dLOC patron interface and systems for production, 2) ensure delivery of necessary changes to the patron and production systems as well as supporting Partners in assessing and implementing technologies overall, and 3) lead a team of other collaborators in his department to create the handbook for digital publishing using the technical supports offered by UFLib Domains.
  • Cliff Richmond, Head of the Digital Development Unit and Security Lead, will 1) directly supervise work for the patron and production systems, and 2) will develop the handbook on digital preservation for system considerations.
  • Fletcher Durant, Director of Conservation & Preservation will 1) be responsible for providing training and expert support for Partner preservation and conservation needs, and 2) contribute expertise and facilitate the creation of a handbook on preservation and conservation practices in the Caribbean, including disaster response best practices.
  • Lourdes Santamaria-Wheeler, Director of Exhibits will 1) be responsible for providing training and expert technical assistance services for Partners in regards to exhibiting materials and creating exhibitions), and 2) produce the handbook for exhibits (with content to include: digital and analog exhibits, and loaning materials for external exhibits).
  • John Nemmers, Director of the Panama Canal Museum Collection, will 1) provide support for Partners in archival practices, and 2) contribute expertise and facilitate creation of the handbook on collection development and selection, including ways to support small archives.
  • Melissa Jerome, Latin American and Caribbean Collections Digital Librarian, will 1) support identification of UF materials for digitization and collaboration across library communities outside of the Caribbean for digitization of materials held in those libraries with prioritization by Partners, and 2) contribute to the handbook for collection development and selection.
  • Laura Perry, Manager of Digital Production and dLOC Technical Director, will 1) provide training and supports transfer, loading, and archiving of Partner digital collection materials, and 2) update existing digitization resources as needed.
  • Twanna Hodge, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Librarian, will consult with project team members who are producing the documentary handbooks, share expertise, and review work processes and product for improvement and validation as they relate to DEI.
  • Matt Kruse, Archivist, will develop the guide for web archiving.