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Idaho's universities team up on new digital collections library

Albertsons Library at Boise State University
Roam Yocham
Boise State Public Radio
Albertons Library at Boise State University, seen in this file photo. Boise State joined the state's other colleges and universities in launching a website where the public can search through their digital collections in one place.

Libraries at Idaho’s colleges and universities are joining forces to put their digital collections all in one place.

The Digital Library of Idaho lets anyone search through nearly 200 collections, like photos from the territorial days in the 19th century or salmon migration reports.

Ben Hunter is the dean of the University of Idaho Library and chairs the Network of Idaho Academic Libraries, which is behind the initiative.

He said the project isn’t just useful for students doing in-depth research.

“It’s also valuable for anybody just with a passing interest in what their neighborhood might’ve looked like 50 years ago or 100 years ago,” Hunter said.

Boise State University, Idaho State University, Lewis-Clark State College and University of Idaho teamed up to launch the Digital Library of Idaho earlier this month.

The collaboration is the latest example of a more cohesive relationship among the state’s higher education institutions.

For Hunter, a third-generation Vandal who grew up going to in-state rivalry games against Boise State or Idaho State, there was a twinge of those old feelings lingering at first.

“It’s always going to be alphabetical and that ‘B’ is always going to be first,” he said jokingly, referring to the universities’ logos on the credit page.

But Hunter said these libraries share the same goal.

“We’re trying to educate Idahoans and bring new people into the state, so it’s a shared goal and we’re stronger together.”

Other local libraries are joining and beginning to share their collections, too, he said.

The network’s next project is even more ambitious. Hunter said he’d like to archive all editions of local newspapers in the state and make them more accessible to the public.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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I cover politics and a bit of everything else for Boise State Public Radio. Outside of public meetings, you can find me fly fishing, making cool things out of leather or watching the Seattle Mariners' latest rebuilding season.

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