Stanford Libraries award prizes for international innovation

The new Stanford Libraries award to recognize outstanding innovation in the world's research libraries goes to institutions in Spain, France, Australia and the United States.

Tupungato/Shutterstock The National Library of France

The National Library of France, located in Paris, was recognized for both its Gallica and Data Digital Libraries.

The first winners of the Stanford Prize for Innovation in Research Libraries are the Bibliothèque nationale de France (National Library of France) and the Miguel de Cervantes Digital Library in Spain.

The Stanford Libraries' new annual award celebrates groundbreaking programs, projects and services for research libraries anywhere in the world.

Commendations of merit went to Australia's Griffith University and the New York Public Library.

About two dozen proposals competed for the modest cash prize of $5,000, underwritten by Logitech, that went to each of the winning institutions.

Michael Keller, the Stanford University librarian, characterized the entries overall as "a startlingly clear signal that research libraries as a community are doing great things, embracing – sanely – the digital age, and immeasurably enriching the research environment for scholarship and study."

The award to the French national library recognizes both its Gallica and Data Digital Libraries.  The Gallica Library promotes French cultural heritage in a digital form, addressing the needs of contemporary scholars as well as a much wider public in a rapidly evolving and highly competitive environment.

The discovery service of the National Library has integrated numerous sources using a Semantic Web approach, thereby making the vast holdings of the library, including those of Gallica, visible through a single, high-tech lens.  Together, both efforts drive a wider audience to the digital library from search engines.

Miguel de Cervantes Digital Library

Spain's Miguel de Cervantes Digital Library, begun in 1999, disseminates Hispanic culture on the web.  Based at the University of Alicante in Spain, the library publishes high-quality content, such as its own full-text critical editions, which can be used by the global research community. The library meets the new challenges of digital libraries with a more open, user-oriented design guided by service-oriented architecture and relying on open-source development.

Australia's Griffith University was commended for its non-traditional Research Hub, which addresses the need for a single, comprehensive view of a university's research output.  It serves an ambitiously wide audience, including international researchers looking for datasets, research students looking for supervisors, industry members looking for consultants and their expertise, and journalists looking for expert sources.

The new award commends New York Public Library Labs for its role as an internal start-up, with an impressively wide range of projects that apply digital technology to collections, services and the institution's mission in imaginative and effective ways.

The Stanford prize has no fixed number of winners or commendations. The judges had a free hand to proceed on merit, without any restrictions on the definition of innovation.

The international panel of judges, chaired by Dame Lynne Brindley, former chief executive officer for the British Library, included Charles Henry, president of the Washington-based professional organization, Council on Library and Information Resources; Richard Luce, associate vice-president for research and dean of libraries for the University of Oklahoma; Elisabeth Niggeman, director general of the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek; Ann Okerson, senior advisor on electronic strategies, the Chicago-based Center for Research Libraries, a professional organization; Dongfang Shao, chief of the Asia Division, Library of Congress; and Karin Wittenborg, university librarian for the University of Virginia.

Cynthia Haven is the associate director of communications for Stanford Libraries.

Andrew Herkovic, Stanford University Libraries,, (650) 725-1877

Cynthia Haven, Stanford University Libraries,, (650) 736-3435

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service, (650) 721-6965,