May 22, 2022

University of Connecticut: Archival Documents, Like Magic, Thanks to UConn Researchers’ New App

From the UConn Today:

A team of UConn faculty and staff have developed an open source web application called Sourcery to make it easier to access some of the world’s most sought-after archives and rare collections.

“Because of the connected nature of modern society, we assume everything is online, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” says Tom Scheinfeldt, associate professor of history and co-inventor of Sourcery. “In fact, only a tiny fraction of the world’s documents have been digitized.”

If researchers want to see those documents, they have limited options. They could request an electronic copy, if they are lucky enough to have a colleague close by who would do it for them. In many cases though, physically traveling to see the documents is often necessary. This option is time consuming, expensive, bad for the environment, and even more complicated in the age of COVID-19 travel restrictions.

To solve these problems, Sourcery gives researchers convenient, remote access to special collections that can’t otherwise be found online. Users just plug in citation information for the desired source material into the app, which can connect researchers to any institution in Sourcery’s service area. A researcher or graduate student in the local area is paid a fee to make a digital version following relevant copyrights, regulations, or policies, and within a matter of hours or days, the documents appear in the user’s inbox. No planes, no trains, no favors.

Sourcery first launched in New York City, Boston, and Storrs. Now they are expanding coverage to include New Haven, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., where many of the world’s most in-demand special collections are located.


Greenhouse Studios launched in February 2017 with a $789,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This award was first of its kind at UConn and part of the Mellon Foundation’s Scholarly Communications program, a multi-pronged effort to accelerate the evolution of scholarly practice and academic publishing to meet the opportunities and challenges of the digital age. The Mellon Foundation recently awarded Greenhouse Studios and Northeastern University Libraries an additional one-year $120,000 planning grant to support the continued development of Sourcery.

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Direct to Sourcery Website

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.