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Learning in Libraries Awards Overview

October 13, 2015

October 13, 2015

By Sandra Toro, Ph.D., IMLS Senior Program Officer, and Sarah Fuller, IMLS Program Officer

In August we announced the second series of awards addressing Learning in Libraries in the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program following our February 2015 application deadline. Overall, across two cycles with deadlines in October and February, we received requests for $54.2 million in grant funds among 162 pre-proposals in two categories: Learning Spaces and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Because of the tremendous amount of overlap between the STEM and Learning Spaces proposals we received in October, we created a new category for the upcoming February deadline: Learning in Libraries. You can learn more about the changes to our grant process here.

For the October and February cycles of Fiscal Year 2015, IMLS awarded eight grants in the Learning in Libraries category totaling $2,546,718. While our October grant deadline has passed, we will have another set of deadlines early next year similar to the recently published Notice of Funding Opportunity for 2016. To make the process more transparent and accessible, we want to share portions of the successful applications from last year with prospective applicants. (You can view examples of successfully funded National Digital Platform Projects here.)

Why we are sharing the proposals:

We are excited to be able to openly share documents from these projects’ grant applications for several reasons:

  1. Everyone can follow along: These projects are intended to make a national impact. By releasing these documents, we enable people around the country to read along and see where these projects are headed.
  2. Working toward defaulting to open: IMLS is committed to transparency and openness, and sharing these documents is a step toward increasing transparency.
  3. What’s in a winning proposal?  These are the first grants we have awarded through our new two-stage process. IMLS issues a call for two-page preliminary proposals which are then reviewed by a panel, resulting in the invitation of a subset of those applicants to submit full proposals for a second round of peer review. When potential applicants apply in future cycles, it will be very useful for them to be able to see documents that succeeded as points of reference.

Understanding the proposal documents:

For some context, here is a bit of information about the pieces of the application that are available for each of these projects. All documents were created as part of the full proposal submitted by each applicant, except the preliminary proposal included at the end of each PDF.

  1. Preliminary Proposal: The initial two-page proposals - think of them like the movie trailer for the project, or the elevator pitch. These proposals were part of sets of 162 initial proposals submitted to the Learning in Libraries priority area in the National Leadership Grants for Libraries grant program this year.
  2. Full Proposal Abstract: A one-page overview of the proposed project.
  3. Full Proposal Narrative: These ten-page documents lay out the case for why the work is needed, how it will be accomplished, what outcomes are envisioned, and how evaluation will be approached.
  4. Schedule of Completion: A short document laying out the timeline for the project.
  5. Digital Stewardship Supplementary Form: This document gives applicants the space to answer questions about any digital products they will create (content, software, data sets, etc.). Only proposals creating digital content need to complete this form.

Learning in Libraries Projects funded in 2015

The Maine State Library was awarded $494,169.00 and is contributing $623,523.00 in cost share for the Empowering Public Libraries to be Science Resource Centers for their Communities: A Guide for State Library Agencies (LG-80-15-0041-15) project. The project team will create a replicable model that enables State Library Agencies nationwide to work with public libraries to build and sustain effective informal science programming and services that prepare people to be full participants in their communities and global society.

The Kitsap Regional Library (KRL) received $391,903.00 in IMLS funds and will contribute $628,249.00 in matching funds for the Make, Do, Share: Sustainable STEM Leadership in a Box project (LG-80-15-0085-15). KRL will build on previous work with BiblioTEC, a highly successful, collaborative, life-changing program of STEM education for youth, and develop, test, and deliver a ready-to-use system that empowers small and rural libraries to become community STEM leaders.

The Vermont Department of Libraries was awarded $343,971.00 and is contributing $344,002.00 in cost share for The Vermont Early Literacy Initiative-STEM (VELI-STEM) project (LG-80-15-0112-15). The Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB) will partner with the Vermont Center for the Book (VCB) and the Montshire Museum of Science (MMS) to develop VELI-STEM. The three year project will help 25 librarians learn concepts and practices essential to STEM learning and weave STEM language and ideas throughout programming for young children, parents, and community childcare providers.

The University of Florida (UF) received $491,822 in IMLS funds and will provide a match of $232,289 for Researching Students' Information Choices: Determining Identity and Judging Credibility in Digital Spaces (LG-81-15-0155-15). For this project, the George A. Smathers Libraries in partnership with researchers at OCLC and Rutgers University will study 180 students, from primary to graduate school, using a task-based methodology to observe students’ cognition in action.

Syracuse University received $249,495 in IMLS funds and will provide $46,148 in cost share for School Libraries as Innovation Spaces, School Librarians as Innovation Mentors: Stimulating Students' Curiosity (LG-80-15-0214-15). As part of this project, Syracuse University’s Center for Digital Literacy, along with By Kids For Kids, the Connecticut Invention Convention, Brooklyn-On-Tech, Time2Invent, and OCLC’s Webjunction, among other collaborators, will work with 96 school librarians and students in grades 4-8 to create a website called The Innovation Destination.  The website will contain resources and training materials for elementary and middle school librarians to use to stimulate and support creative thinking among students.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences was awarded $248,205 for App Authors: Closing the App Gap II (LG-80-15-0185-15). This three year, multi-site project focuses on app-creation for children from age eight to twelve.  App Authors will create curricula and tools for use in school and public libraries that will teach young people to create apps and allow them to share their achievements with other children. 

Syracuse University’s Community as Collection (LG-80-15-0212-15) project includes $281,262 in IMLS funds and a cost share of $281,855.00. Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies (iSchool) is partnering with Coulter Library at Onondaga Community College and Fayetteville Free Library to design a Community Profile System. This system will help librarians collect communities’ learning needs, identify relevant community experts, and link resources to serve their communities’ learners in cost efficient ways. 

The Savannah College of Art and Design received $50,000 in IMLS funds and has a cost share of $72,900 for SCAD Libraries User Experience Design: Planning Grant (LG-82-15-0166). Savannah College of Art and Design will plan and create a User Experience (UX) Design Assessment Tool to study and improve user satisfaction by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction between the user and the library. 

We are very excited about this slate of awards and welcome any questions you might have about the application or review process.

National Leadership Grants for Libraries