Columbia University Libraries Contribute to Digital Library Federation’s Aquifer Initiative

NEW YORK, May 1, 2008 Columbia University Libraries recently made The Papers of John Jay, one of its unique historical digital collections, available to the Digital Library Federation’s Aquifer database, American Social History Online. The Libraries will contribute additional collections over the next few months including the Lehman Special Correspondence Series, the Greene & Greene Architectural Drawings and Photos, Notable New Yorkers, Joseph Urban Stage Design, and a series of historical monographs related to New York City.


The Papers of John Jay, featuring more than 11,000 viewable facsimiles of John Jay’s correspondence and related documents, will be a significant addition to the Aquifer American Social History Online database. The database collects together 19th and 20th century primary resources from unique historical digital collections, and includes nearly 300,000 digitized objects, including books, pamphlets, journal articles, maps, sheet music, videos, data sets, political cartoons, posters, and oral histories from over 140 American Social History research collections.

As part of the process of making Columbia’s digital collections available to Aquifer, Columbia’s Libraries Digital Program implemented several new standards and technologies, including the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) for repository interoperability and the Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS) for contributing cataloging data. According to Stephen Paul Davis, director of the Libraries Digital Program, “Our implementation of these new standards for the Aquifer project will not only allow us to contribute more of our collections to the American Social History Online database, it will provide us with the ability to share Columbia Libraries’ unique digital content broadly on campus and with other institutions and individuals world-wide.”

Aquifer is a program of the Digital Library Federation, a consortium of libraries that are pioneering the use of electronic information technologies to extend their collections and services. “We are delighted to include Columbia University Libraries’ rich digital historical collections in American Social History Online,” said Katherine Kott, DLF Aquifer director. “By providing access to these valuable resources, with collections from other libraries and cultural heritage organizations, American Social History Online offers an excellent starting point for scholars doing research on U.S. culture and life.”

Columbia University Libraries’ digital collections now include more than 120,000 items from some twenty-eight special and distinctive collections, ranging from digitized images of ancient papyri to contemporary oral histories of prominent New Yorkers. See for more information about and access to these collections.

Columbia University Libraries/Information Services is one of the top five academic research library systems in North America. The collections include over 10 million volumes, over 100,000 journals and serials, as well as extensive electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, maps, graphic and audio-visual materials. The services and collections are organized into 25 libraries and various academic technology centers. The Libraries employs more than 550 professional and support staff. The website of the Libraries at is the gateway to its services and resources.

The Columbia Libraries’ Digital Program Division (LDPD) was established in 2002 to carry out planning, implementation and coordination of digital projects and services for Columbia University Libraries. The Division coordinates Columbia's collection-digitization initiatives, provides technology support and hosting for major scholarly databases, develops enhanced end-user interfaces and tools for discovery of and access to the Libraries' licensed electronic resources, manages Columbia's institutional repository and digital preservation programs, and provides technology and design support for the Libraries' public and internal web sites. More information may be found at:

05/01/08 LMK