Funding supports digitization of transformative Extension documents

The North Carolina State University Libraries has been awarded a $98,997 grant to support the digitization project “Better Living in North Carolina: Bringing Science and Technology to the People,” a collaboration with North Carolina A&T State University’s F. D. Bluford Library.

The project serves students, faculty, researchers, and the general public by digitizing and making easily available online an important body of primary agricultural extension documents that reveal the scientific and technological transformation of North Carolina’s agricultural economy during the 20th century and the ways this transformation improved the lives of its citizens.

The funds to support this work were awarded by the State Library of North Carolina and are made possible through funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) as administered by the State Library of North Carolina — a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. These federal funds are investments that help libraries deliver relevant and up-to-date services for their communities.

The materials digitized through “Better Living in North Carolina” document the advances of modern agricultural practices and their economic impact across the state. During the time period covered by the project, farming in North Carolina moved from subsistence levels to the production of global commodities—a shift driven in part by research and development done at NC State University.

Throughout the 20th century, as this shift occurred, Cooperative Extension programs — based at NC State and NCA&TSU — helped North Carolina farmers and agricultural businesses learn and apply new research in the agricultural and life sciences.

Specific programs run by Cooperative Extension during this time have included 4-H, Family and Consumer Sciences (originally called Home Demonstration and Home Economics), various farm animal programs (such as poultry extension, swine extension, etc.), boll weevil eradication, soil conservation, rural electrification, plant disease clinics, rural development, and food and nutrition education. During the world wars, there was an emphasis on food production and preservation.

During the first year of the project, the NCSU Libraries will digitize up to 252,000 pages of Cooperative Extension annual reports from 1909 to 1983. North Carolina A&T State University F. D. Bluford Library will scan up to 5,000 pages of correspondence, pamphlets, and scrapbooks, as well as photographs, from collections of two prominent African American extension agents.

“Better Living in North Carolina” builds upon the success of other digital projects developed by the NCSU Libraries with the support of LSTA funds. Most recently, the Libraries completed “Cultivating a Revolution: Science, Technology, and Change in North Carolina Agriculture, 1950-1979” The project digitized 41,299 pages of archival documents, 2,741 photographs, and 161 videos and films. Previous agricultural digitization projects include the NCSU Libraries’ Green ‘N’ Growing (, which documents the history of 4-H and home demonstration in North Carolina from the 1900s to the 1970s.

The LSTA grant program administered by the State Library of North Carolina funds projects that help libraries deliver learning opportunities for a lifetime, support libraries in their mission to provide cost-effective access to the Internet and to information expertise, and make library resources more accessible to all users.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

The North Carolina State Library has posted a list of all LSTA grant awards for 2015-2016. For additional information about “Better Living in North Carolina,” contact Brian Dietz, Digital Program Librarian for Special Collections, at

Media Contact:
Chris Tonelli
Director of Communications Strategy
North Carolina State University Libraries