In 1992, Naropa University submitted a proposal to the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for a small grant to conduct a survey of the University’s archives collections. The grant was funded and the subsequent study recommended the creation of a university archives program and determined that Naropa’s collections of analog audio and video materials were the most at-risk collections. With very limited resources and staffing, almost a decade went by before the issue was fully addressed.
In 2001, a small group of very passionate faculty, staff, and students, mounted an effort to raise funding, going so far as parking cars for a fee in the Naropa parking lots during University of Colorado football games. With their efforts and new staffing in the University’s Development Office, Naropa sought and received a $20,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2002 to conduct a pilot project to digitize portions of the audio collection.
The preservation and reformatting of the audio collection has since been supported by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Save America’s Treasures, the GRAMMY Foundation, the Collaborative Digitization Program, and private donors. In addition, the National Film Preservation Foundation funded the preservation of the Bobbie Louise Hawkins Home Movie Collection, a fascinating view into the personal lives of many distinguished 20th Century writers. The Audio Archive Project gained national recognition as a leader in audio preservation, and in the process the University made a commitment to retain a professional archivist on its staff.
In 2008, Naropa University received a two-year grant from the NHPRC to create a professional University Archives and Records Program. The goals of the program are to gather together in one location, re-house, arrange and describe the historical records and other collections of the University to meet accepted archival standards, and to develop and implement a records management program to maintain the active University records. The collections being processed under this project provide a fascinating history of the growth of a small Buddhist institute into a fully accredited university. This program will provide access to the historical records of Naropa University to a wide range of students, scholars, and lifelong learners.
In fall 2012, after two years of closure due to funding shortages, the Naropa Archives have reopened. We are currently working on a four year project to digitize and make available 100% of our institutional audio and video recordings.