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Association of Research Libraries Awards Venture Fund 2020 Grants

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image CC0 by Greg Rakozy

The Association of Research Libraries is proud to announce the recipients of our first annual Venture Fund awards: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries (funding amount $15,000.00), Northwestern University Libraries (funding amount $11,566.76), and Temple University Libraries (funding amount $1,500.00).

In 2019, the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) established a Venture Fund to support the work of member organizations that are advancing key priorities of the Association. Three types of proposals were considered, including one-time research and development grants for the significant expansion of a prototype, research and development grants for one-to-three-year pilots, and mini-grants for small-scale proofs of concept or prototypes.

The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill Libraries’ proposal is titled “On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance.” Led by Amanda Henley, head of Digital Research Services, the project team is creating a text corpus of over 100 years of North Carolina session laws and building on existing scholarship to identify Jim Crow laws using machine learning. This project was developed with the support of a cohort one sub-award from Collections as Data: Part to Whole, an initiative funded by the Mellon Foundation through the University of Nevada Las Vegas. The UNC Libraries are on track to finish their deliverables for this project and will use the Venture Fund award to continue to develop On the Books over the next year. Using the products from On the Books, scholars will be able to use new methods to investigate questions that were previously out of reach. The project will also benefit scholars by generating new research opportunities.

Northwestern University Libraries’ proposal is titled “Lowering Barriers for Publishing Open Textbooks: A Minimal Computing Toolkit” and is led by Chris Diaz, digital publishing librarian, and Lauren McKeen, open education librarian. The Venture Fund will help with the expansion of Northwestern’s prototypical workflow, into an adaptable toolkit for open textbook creators. The toolkit will consist of learning modules, documentation, and code samples for librarians, faculty, and instructors at ARL institutions to use and adapt, as part of the open textbook publishing process. More broadly, this project will introduce a minimal computing framework for creating open textbooks.

Temple University Libraries’ proposal is titled, “Trauma-Informed Services Training for Library Staff.” The project is led by Olivia Given Castello, head of business, social sciences & education, and library liaison to the School of Social Work, Temple University Libraries (TUL); Laurie Friedman, assistant professor of instruction and coordinator of continuing education & professional development, Temple University School of Social Work (SSW); Joel Nichols, North Philadelphia neighborhood libraries cluster leader, Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP). This collaborative project brings trauma-informed services training to TUL and to the FLP North Philadelphia neighborhood library staff. Funding will be used to pay for three, two-hour SSW continuing education workshops tailored to the needs and experiences of librarians and patrons. This pilot project is intended to test a model for delivering customized training in trauma-informed services, with an eye towards creating a sustained continuing education relationship between TUL, SSW, and FLP.

“The ARL Venture Fund is an opportunity for research libraries to pursue prototypes or proofs of concept that have a compelling value on a scale greater than a specific library, campus, or organization. We had many more proposals than we could award, further indicating the significant opportunities for research libraries to contribute—especially now. Given the fund criteria, these three projects stand out, and have the potential to advance research libraries, the research and learning community, and even society at large. We look forward to supporting them and highlighting their work,” said Mary Lee Kennedy, ARL executive director.

Proposals for the 2021 Venture Fund will be accepted beginning in October 2020 with a deadline of February 26, 2021.


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.