(Posted April 18, 2022)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. — Juniata College has received a $498,577 Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to preserve and sustain its Archives and Special Collections (ASC).

Funding will support the creation of a highly visible suite, designed to invite engagement with and preserve Juniata’s most historic and rare humanities library collections. This preservation and sustainability effort is part of a comprehensive renovation of the existing library to create the Statton Learning Commons. This NEH program awards matching funds to help institutions secure long-term support for the expansion of preservation efforts and the creation of access to outstanding humanities materials.

“A dynamic and inviting library allows faculty and students to model how knowledge is created; having a contemporary space with accessible resources is essential for student success,” said Lauren Bowen, Provost and project director for the grant. “We are grateful to the National Endowment of the Humanities for recognizing the promise and potential of allowing our community to engage directly with our special collections and archival materials whether it’s in first-year classes, for senior capstones, or for research interests of community members.”

Juniata’s ASC offers the rare opportunity to engage with history in multiple ways. Through the lens of art, science, language, and other perspectives, student, faculty, and community researchers are transported through time and space with the turn of a page and the reading of script written with the scratch of a quill dipped in ink. Centuries-old Bibles, books, broadsides, and maps, most with a unique connection to institutional and regional history are a part of the library’s special collections and date back as far as the 1300s. The details concerning the 1876 founding of the Huntingdon Normal School, now Juniata College, can be found within the archives, along with family papers belonging to the founders’ family, the Brumbaughs, who were among the region’s earliest settlers.

“The recognition from NEH and support of this project signals the ongoing importance of a multi-disciplinary education and enables Juniata to be a sustainable source for scholarly research through primary sources,” said Anne Wood, Assistant Vice President and Chief Information Officer, who is leading Juniata’s library through the learning commons transition and into the future. “This grant will support updated facilities that centralize and help to preserve Juniata’s most unique and rare items, allowing us to increase access to an intentionally curated collection that supports our mission and curriculum, and connects students to our history and the local community.”

 The establishment of the new learning commons anticipates the future of academic libraries, associated with creating a learner-centered environment allowing those conducting research to utilize primary sources themselves. Exploration of the new ASC Suite within the Station Learning Commons will lead to an appreciation for how the humanities are rooted in the acquisition of knowledge and generate a greater concern for the global community as students engage with the world around them.

“As a challenge grant, NEH will match donor gifts to the ASC Suite. Tim and Kathy Statton have already gotten us off to a strong start with a lead gift, and we thank them for believing in this vision. We feel confident that our supporters will follow their lead,” said Jim Watt, Vice President for Advancement.

Since its creation in 1965, NEH has awarded more than $5.6 billion for humanities projects through more than 64,000 grants. This is the third award from the NEH Juniata has received since 2020.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.