This blog has spent considerable time forwarding the belief in the necessity of a common mission for Public Libraries:
“To provide the open and equal access to information that is necessary for the existence of an informed citizenry able to participate in their government.”
It is wonderful to see news of efforts supporting the development and enhancement of this fundamental mission in Public Libraries!
Winners of the Knight News Challenge on Libraries were announced Friday, awarding projects from across the country that create new and innovative ways to improve city libraries and communities.
Launched by the The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the challenge will award 22 projects that “leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities.” Eight projects will receive investments of $130,000 to $600,000, and 14 early-stage ideas will receive $35,000 each through the Knight Prototype Fund.
“There is a growing demand for libraries to evolve their role and become more dynamic, living platforms, responsive to community needs,” said John S. Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation. “The winners are working to reinvent the ways in which people experience the library, and providing citizens with the tools and information they require to contribute and strengthen our democracy.”
This is solid affirmation of the idea that Public Libraries must continue to focus on providing access to information and the tools that allow citizens to become “informed” and able to participate in society and the democratic process!
Some of the winners:
The Community Resource Lab by District of Columbia Public Library (Washington, D.C.): Advancing the library as the primary anchor of an open information system that connects residents to essential health, human and social services.
BklynShare by Brooklyn Public Library (New York): Enabling people to learn new skills through a service that connects knowledge seekers with experts in their own neighborhood
Book a Nook by Harvard University metaLAB (Boston): Activating library public spaces for diverse community uses by testing a software toolkit that streamlines the exploration and reservation of physical library spaces.
GITenberg by Project GITenberg (Montclair, N.J., and Somerville, Mass.): Exploring collaborative cataloging for Project Gutenberg public-domain ebooks using the Web-based repository hosting service GitHub.
Journalism Digital News Archive by University of Missouri Libraries and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute (Columbia, Mo.): Ensuring access to digital news content through development of a model for archiving and preserving digital content that can be used across the country.
Your Next Skill by Seattle Public Library (Seattle): Helping people acquire new skills or expand their knowledge by creating a librarian-led, referral service that connects users with materials, classes and instructors that will help them meet their goals.
Space/Time Directory from the New York Public Library: Working with local communities and technologists to turn historical maps and other library collections into an interactive directory for the exploration of New York across time periods.
Open Data to Open Knowledge from City of Boston: Turning Boston’s open data collection of everything from building permits to potholes into an accessible resource by working with Boston Public Library to catalog it and make it easier for residents, researchers and public employees to navigate.
The Internet Archive: Helping people create and share global collections of cultural treasures on the Internet Archive, one of the world’s largest public libraries.
The list is lengthy and you can see it in its entirety here. It is amazing to see so many worthy Public Library projects (or projects that will impact Public Libraries access to information) getting the money they need to make headway on this important mission. (Its equally unfortunate to see that a few of the ‘big money projects’ seem to stray a bit from the clearly stated mission of the Challenge…)
Congratulations to the Knight Foundation and the winning Libraries!