Read the First Four National Digital Platform Grant Proposals

By Trevor Owens
Senior Library Program Officer, IMLS

We recently announced the first series of awards addressing the national digital platform priority in the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. This is both a strategic priority for the agency and part of a new proposal process.

You can now read the original preliminary proposals, the full proposal narratives, schedules of completion, and the projects’ digital supplementary forms.

The Initial National Digital Platform Projects

Below are brief descriptions of each of the four initial national digital platform projects. In each case, we have provided links to the proposal documents for readers to further understand these projects.

  • Fostering a New National Library Network through a Community-­Based, Connected Repository System (LG-70-15-0006): The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Stanford University, and DuraSpace will foster a greatly expanded network of open-access, content-hosting “hubs” that will enable discovery and interoperability, as well as the reuse of digital resources by people from this country and around the world. The three partners will engage in a major development of the community-driven open source Hydra project to provide these hubs with a new all-in-one solution, which will also allow countless other institutions to easily join the national digital platform.
  • Museum Hub for Open Content (LG-70-15-0002): ARTstor, in collaboration with the El Paso Museum of Art, the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Staten Island Museum, and the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) will create and implement software to enable museums to contribute digital image collections for open public access. The project will lower barriers to museum contributions to the DPLA by producing enhanced metadata tools, intellectual property rights decision support tools, and a direct-to-DPLA publishing capacity.
  • Combining Social Media Storytelling with Web Archives (LG-71-15-0077): Old Dominion University and the Internet Archive will collaborate to develop tools and techniques for integrating “storytelling” social media and web archiving. The partners will use information retrieval techniques to (semi-)automatically generate stories summarizing a collection and mine existing public stories as a basis for librarians, archivists, and curators to create collections about breaking events.
  • Repository Services for Accessible Course Content (LG-72-15-0009): This planning project, led by Tufts University, will bring together experts from disability services, including librarians, IT professionals, advocates, and legal counsel, to develop work plans for shared infrastructure, within which universities can support their students with disabilities. The intention is to create specifications and a business model that will complement existing platforms and services.

Why Access to Proposal Documents?

For several reasons, we are excited to be able to openly share documents related to each of these proposals.

  1. Everyone Can Follow Along: These proposals are intended to make a national impact. We like the idea of these documents being out there so that folks from around the country can read along and see where these projects are planning to go.
  2. Working toward Defaulting to Open: IMLS is committed to working toward becoming more open and transparent, and sharing these documents is a step in the right direction to increasingly defaulting towards open.
  3. What’s in a Winning Proposal? This is the first time that we have used a two-step process (a call for 2-page preliminary proposals reviewed by a panel, resulting in the invitation of a subset of those to submit full proposals and a second round of peer review). So, when potential applicants look to apply in future cycles, it will be very useful for them to be able to see documents that succeeded as points of reference.

What Are These Documents?

  • Full Proposal Abstract: A one-page gloss of the proposed project.
  • Full Proposal Narrative: These ten-page documents were created for each of the projects that were invited to submit a full proposal. They lay out the case for why it is needed, for how it will be accomplished, what its outcomes will be, and how it will approach evaluation.
  • Schedule of Completion: A short document laying out the schedule and timeline for the project.
  • Digital Content Supplementary Form: The document that 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 fill this form out.
  • 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 a set of 34 initial proposals submitted to the National Leadership Grants for Libraries priority area.


Posted in 21st Century Skills, Collections Care/Preservation, Information Infrastructure/Systems/Workflows, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), National Leadership Grants | Leave a comment

Celebrating National Poetry Month with Student Poets

By Maura Marx
Acting Director, IMLS

Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending a White House event celebrating National Poetry Month. Both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama delivered remarks and their old friend, poet Elizabeth Alexander, read from her new book before a gathering of student poets, federal arts supporters, and others in the East Room. Earlier in the day, Elizabeth Alexander led a White House Poetry Workshop with a large group of students. My colleagues from the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities were there, and we were all very proud to see National Student Poet Madeleine LeCesne introduce the President (“Former teen poet and President of the United States…”).

Madeline LeCesne speaks at the podium at the White House.

National Student Poet Madeleine LeCesne introduces President Barack Obama at the White House Poetry Workshop.

As strong supporters of the arts, the President and First Lady held up the value of poetry in education and in our lives. The President said, “I think it’s fair to say that if we didn’t have poetry, that this would be a pretty barren world. In fact, it’s not clear that we would survive without poetry. As Elizabeth once wrote, ‘We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed, words to consider, reconsider.’ That’s the power of poetry.”

The First Lady asked the students if they enjoyed the workshop earlier that afternoon and received a very hearty response. She reminded them how blessed they were to have already discovered poetry and challenged them to help their peers connect with creativity: “You guys have got to find the young people in your world, and you’ve got to pull them in and give them these opportunities and to expose them, because this kind of stuff saves lives. We see it every day.”

Her message to IMLS and other arts, cultural, and educational supporters was just as clear: “Arts is not a luxury. Everyone needs it.”

I agree and have relished every opportunity to hear about the activities of the National Student Poets. IMLS is proud to partner with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and the nonprofit Alliance for Young Artists & Writers on the nation’s highest honor for teen poets, the National Student Poets Program (NSSP). Over the past year, the program has begun coordinating with spoken word poetry groups, such as Poetry Out Loud, as well national groups like the Poetry Foundation and the American Academy of Poets, to reflect the growing movement to embrace poetry in all its forms.

The 2014 National Student Poets—Weston Clark of Indianapolis, IN; Julia Falkner of Louisville, CO; Ashley Gong of Sandy Hook, CT; Madeleine LeCesne of New Orleans, LA; and Cameron Messinides of Greenville, SC—have been to the White House and across the country participating in poetry events, workshops, and service projects.

On April 15, Ashley Gong brought the house down when she read one of her poems at the American Academy of Poets’ Poetry & The Creative Mind Gala at Lincoln Center in New York.  Later that week she read some of her poetry and conducted a workshop at the Just Buffalo Writing Center and kicked off an open mic session at Writers & Books in Rochester, New York.  Also on April 15, Cameron Messinides was a featured reader at the South Carolina Center for the Book and he introduced South Carolina poet Ray McManus. Julia Faulkner appeared at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on April 18, where she was introduced by Luis J. Rodriguez, Los Angeles Poet Laureate. Madeleine LeCesne was a featured reader at the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, LA, on April 21.  She was special requested by Louisiana State Poet Laureate, Ava Leavell Haymon.  And on April 25, Weston Clark will be an honored guest, speaker, and workshop leader at the Indianapolis Letters About Literature Award Ceremony in his home state of Indiana.

Poetry is a very active and powerful way of engaging young people, helping them broaden their vision of the future. I encourage libraries and museums to look for new ways to encourage students’ connections to language and poetry.

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Engagement, Creativity and Inspiration Found in New Afterschool STEM Programs

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Innovation and Improvement blog. To view the original post, click here.

By Ellen Lettvin
Robert Noyce Senior Fellow, Office Innovation and Improvement.Engagement, Creativity and Inspiration Found in New Afterschool STEM Programs.

Team Cupcake, Team Imaginators, Team Spaced Out, and Thinkers of Tomorrow. These are some of the hard-working student teams that can say that they have tackled challenges similar to those faced by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientists and engineers.

Begun in 2013, this collaboration has expanded from 20 sites in its first year, to 80 sites in California, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Participating students are presented with NASA-inspired challenges, such as simulating a parachute drop onto the surface of Mars, designing a radiation protection system for astronauts and flight hardware, and developing a recreational activity for astronauts to perform in the microgravity environment aboard the International Space Station. NASA staff provides face-to-face and ongoing online professional development to the 21st CCLC staff, and students have several opportunities to interact directly with NASA scientists and engineers as they learn firsthand about engineering design, practices and careers.

This year, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) have begun pilot programs in another 36 sites to leverage their unique STEM-learning resources and to provide additional programs such as STEM-rich making, environmental monitoring and citizen science. In partnership with the Bureau of Indian Education, NPS is engaging students across Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Washington. Students learn about natural resources in their regions and delve into hands-on activities in fields such as biology and ecology. Working with Hands on the Land—a national network of field classrooms and agency resources connecting students, teachers, families, and volunteers with public lands and waterways—NPS is also providing subject-matter experts to provide professional development to 21st CCLC students and staff.

Aided by IMLS, students in California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas are being introduced to STEM-rich making and tinkering. It taps into the considerable enthusiasm for making as a powerful way to get young people engaged in STEM learning. This place-based collaboration links local science centers with 21st CCLC afterschool sites. Students will benefit from a partnership with the Exploratorium, a San Francisco-based institution with a history of innovation in maker education. Youth participants will have the opportunity to work directly with maker-focused subject matter experts to aide them in their work and to learn about careers in the field.

There is considerable evidence that out-of-school time programming is critical to engaging all students in STEM, a field where the number of unfilled jobs continues to grow. Providing inspiration and linkages to real-world problems are recognized as key factors to motivating student interest in STEM, particularly for young girls and minorities, who have the lowest levels of participation in the STEM fields. With studies showing that demand for STEM jobs will outpace supply globally for the next 20 years, the 21st CCLC program is an important tool to ensure more students are exposed to and prepared for the many high-skilled, high-paying jobs of the future.

Ellen Lettvin is a Robert Noyce Senior Fellow in Informal STEM Learning in the Office Innovation and Improvement.

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Education Support, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) | 1 Comment