Faculty awarded national Knight News Challenge grant

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Two Penn State University Libraries faculty librarians have partnered with the head of adult services at Schlow Centre Region Library to earn one of just 14 Knight News Challenge grants nationwide totaling $1.4 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant winners’ projects aim to help shape the future of libraries, meeting 21st-century information needs as centers for digital learning, data sharing, community connection and discovery.

“Digging DEEP: A Digital Extension Education Portal for Community Growth,” known as DEEP, is being led by project leads Rebecca K. Miller, head of library learning services; Lauren Reiter, the Sally W. Kalin librarian for learning innovations and business liaison librarian, both of Penn State; and Maria Kenney Burchill, head of adult services at Schlow Centre Region Library. Their successful proposal aims to “connect academic libraries to local community needs by developing a portal for information, research, resources and sharing.”

“The University Libraries actively partners across and beyond the University to provide innovative services to best support Penn State’s land-grant mission of academics, research and service and, significantly, lead as an innovative, 21st-century public research library,” Barbara I. Dewey, dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications, said. “I’m thrilled for Rebecca and Lauren’s pursuit of and success with the Knight News Challenge in collaboration with our regional colleague Maria Burchill of Schlow Centre Region Library. They are among our exemplary Libraries faculty and community leaders whose groundbreaking research and its implementation, through development of their Digital Extension Education Portal, aim to positively impact Pennsylvania, including those served by Penn State Extension, and American communities’ access to knowledge and resources.”

The DEEP project prototype, which received $35,000 from the Knight Foundation for its development, also will align with the College of Agricultural Sciences’ innovative Atlas project for Penn State Extension. Atlas is a fundamental shift in how Penn State Extension identifies, develops and delivers education to expand access and reach of educational programs. This includes traditional audiences in the face-to-face environment, as well as emerging audiences demanding information online. The addition of the DEEP prototype could support and enhance the knowledge offered through Atlas.

The Knight News Challenge-funded ideas, announced June 23, highlight libraries as essential to addressing information challenges and creating new opportunities for communities to engage with ideas and each other.

“The winners show the potential of libraries to innovate and reinvent themselves in response to ever-evolving information needs. We hope they will inspire more innovation in the space and help highlight the many ways libraries can connect communities in the digital age,” John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president of media innovation, said.

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Last Updated August 25, 2016