Academic journal article Collaborative Librarianship

Connecting Researchers with Funding Opportunities: A Joint Effort of the Libraries and the University Research Office

Academic journal article Collaborative Librarianship

Connecting Researchers with Funding Opportunities: A Joint Effort of the Libraries and the University Research Office

Article excerpt


Academic liaison librarians recognize the need for active engagement with their campuses. Many librarians now see their turf as the entire campus, both physical and virtual, with potential users of library resources and services in every corner. Partnerships extend beyond those with academic departments and colleges, to include continuing and extension education and the upper administrative offices of the institution.

In the LIS literature, there are numerous examples of joint efforts formed between librarians and faculty members, particularly in the areas of bibliographic instruction/information literacy to support specific coursework. By way of illustration, McInnis Bowers, Chew, et al (2009) described one such association in teaching an entry-level, undergraduate business course at Birmingham-Southern, a liberal arts college. Mazak and Manista (2001) discussed the incorporation of resources available in the Michigan State University Archives and Historical Collections into a course offered by the Department of American Thought and Language. In support of students' research experience, Stamatoplos (2009) presented the expansion of librarians' roles into undergraduate research at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which includes not only meeting the information needs of student-researchers but a role in program development.

As many institutions of higher education undergo reorganization and strategic planning processes, it is crucial that libraries align themselves with the institution's plan, and find opportunities for contribution. Little and Tuten (2006) explained the design of the information-literacy efforts of the library at the University of South Carolina Aiken to explicitly support an information-seeking goal in the university's strategic plan. Further, at Eastern Washington University, the Libraries took a unique twist on strategic planning - faculty joined with the staff to develop the Libraries' five-year strategic plan (Miller 2009). In the discussion below, the work of the University of Minnesota Libraries with the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) similarly stemmed from a timely recognition that the Libraries could support, in a very concrete way, a specific element of the University's strategic plan.

External funding is a more dominant element than ever before in supporting the research, instruction, and outreach work of academic and research institutions, whether public or private. Blobaum (2007) discussed the development of the Grants Information Service at Governors State University Library (IL), and the efforts of the Grants Information Librarian to support the hospital's quest for external funding. In this case, the librarian instructed a workshop that served as a resource for identification of and access to funding sources and taught the elements of grant proposal preparation. Kraus (2007) described a similar evolution for a "Grant Writing and Research" class available to faculty, staff, and graduate students through libraries at the University of Utah.

This paper describes a different type of library involvement than those described by Blobaum or Kraus. Unlike Blobaum, the University of Minnesota Libraries' efforts go beyond a single disciplinary area; instead, a group of librarians serving a range of disciplinary areas, from the life and physical sciences to the arts, humanities, and social sciences, offer workshops addressing the search for funding opportunities. Unlike Kraus, the Libraries offer multiple sessions during a semester, but our workshop does not prepare attendees to write a proposal. The Minnesota story most closely resembles that of Holmes and Hawson (2000), in which the library reference staff at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Greensboro and staff from that university's Office of Research Services collaborated to offer workshops that teach about web-based grants databases.

The UNC-Greensboro story started with a fortuitous accidental meeting, whereas the relationship between the University of Minnesota's OVPR and Libraries developed from deliberate outreach by the Libraries to meet researchers' need for better discovery of grant opportunities. …

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