UC Libraries Receive Mellon Foundation Scholarly Communications and Information Technology Grant

The University of Cincinnati Libraries were awarded a $58,000 Scholarly Communications and Information Technology Program planning grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to define and describe the key skills and competencies required to support a robust digital scholarship program. This is the first Mellon grant ever received by UC Libraries.

Digital scholarship (DS) is defined very broadly as the creation, production, analysis, and or dissemination of scholarship using new technologies with emphasis on non-traditional, digital, and computational techniques. DS encompasses both the creation of research content and tools. DS can be found across disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Activities take many forms, both physical (with the establishment of actual centers) and virtual (such as the development of online repositories and the tools to analyze their content). In some cases, activity is localized within a research library with the hiring of specialized personnel, while in other cases, it is a separate unit. Although DS activity is wide spread, no single model has emerged as the de facto standard. This project will focus on identifying the skills and competencies required to support DS, regardless the institution or campus unit actually delivering the service or expertise.

“We hope that our project will contribute to the development of effective DS throughout academia,” said Xuemao Wang, dean and university librarian and principal investigator on the project. “We are enthusiastic about what the project will mean for research institutions at large and for research libraries specifically, nationally and internationally.” The project is a joint initiative and collaboration with co-investigators Vivian Lewis of McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) and Jon Cawthorne of Florida State University.

The project investigators will conduct interviews with key faculty, administrators, librarians, and technologists engaged in DS at 10 locations both in the U.S. and abroad. They plan to identify “best in class” DS programs and determine, through site visits and interviews, the key workforce-related factors associated with those centers’ success, always with an eye to continuous improvement and shared learning.

By sharing best practices from this rapidly evolving field, this Mellon-funded project will contribute to the various DS activities occurring at the University of Cincinnati, including digital humanities efforts being led by UC Forward. Initiatives in the digital humanities are just some of the projects in UC Libraries’ growing portfolio and exploration of DS, which includes online special collections, research data management, institutional repositories, and born-digital archives management.

Mellon Foundation Scholarly Communications and Information Technology Program grants support collaborative research and planning projects on the future of research library services.