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Jeannette Rankin Library Program

The Margarita S. Studemeister Digital Library in International Conflict Management

On September 4, 2003, Institute President Richard H. Solomon announced the naming of the Institute's digital library, with its collections of peace agreements and truth commissions, in honor of Margarita S. Studemeister for her pioneering work in the creation and development of a digital library with the goal of strengthening worldwide access to resources dealing with the prevention, management and resolution of international conflict. She served as director of the Jeannette Rankin Library Program from 1994-2003.

In 1996 and 1998, the Jeannette Rankin Library Program of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C. began to develop two digital collections: the Peace Agreements Digital Collection and the Truth Commissions Digital Collection. The primary documents acquired for both of these collections, although public, are hard to locate. Recurrent themes contained in these materials make both collections particularly useful for comparative studies in international conflict management. The Institute library hopes that its digital collections will become research and learning tools on peaceful means to end international conflict.

From the outset, the Institute library conceived its digital library plans as part of a collaborative federal effort. In this spirit, we supported the Foreign Affairs Documentation Center (FADC) proposed by the then-United States Information Agency. The FADC was planned as an inter-agency digital library for public access primarily to unclassified official foreign policy documents of the United States, and is now defunct.

The FADC sought to identify valuable digital collections at federal agencies, define persistent names for the documents and an indexing scheme for the collections, implement a registration process for documents submitted by the participating agencies, and design the worldwide delivery of the texts. The system architecture design by William Y. Arms, formerly of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), allowed end-users at any of 200 posts around the world, or connected via a browser to the World Wide Web, to search and retrieve documents with the aid of downloadable plug-ins from the FADC's web site. The design pioneered by Arms is being implemented by the American Memory Project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress.

The Institute library is currently collecting the full text of peace agreements signed by the contending parties, ending inter- and intrastate conflicts worldwide since 1989 for its Peace Agreements Digital Collection. Similarly, for the Truth Commissions Digital Collection, we are acquiring decrees establishing truth commissions and similar bodies of inquiry worldwide, and the reports issued by such groups.

The Institute's development of a digital library reflects its commitment to innovative technologies, collaboration and resource-sharing to strengthen preventive diplomacy, the management of international relations and the resolution of conflicts worldwide. Furthermore, the digital library plans complement and augment other information and communications technology projects that seek to capture, describe, organize, search, retrieve and disseminate the growing intellectual production and information about practical experiences in international conflict management supported by the Institute.

Updated: January 14 2004


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