“Good Ideas” grants support innovations from NCSU Libraries staff

Students were able to utilize tangible landscape at a recent Coffee & Viz event.

Collaboration. Experimentation. Creativity. Risk-taking. All of these are valued in the NCSU Libraries culture and all are characteristics of “Good Ideas.”

“Good Ideas” is an NCSU Libraries granting program for experimental projects conceived and led by Libraries staff. The grants provide seed funding for creative, novel approaches to services, collections, operations, workflows, use of technology, or other challenges. The program capitalizes on the Libraries’ organizational culture of user-centered innovation, collaboration, and fast-paced change and sustains the pace of innovation of a “library of the future.”

To promote a steady stream of ideas, “Good Ideas” grants are available throughout the year and an application can be submitted at any time. “Good Ideas” project proposals should further the strategic objectives of the Libraries and the university, and collaborative, cross-departmental projects are encouraged. Awards are reviewed and made by a committee of peers, cover a single year, and can range from $1,000-$25,000.

Projects that have received “Good Ideas” grants in the past include:

Wolf TalesThe mobile "StoryCorps" pilot program captures alumni interviews and expands alumni engagement through an NCSU Libraries presence at key alumni events. Using a mobile interview booth, staff interviews alumni to add their firsthand narratives to online collections and to connect them to other digital university history resources. Wolf Tales makes the Libraries more visible within the university community and builds relationships with the Alumni Association and potential donors across the NC State community.

Open Science Unconference—Researchers from across the university gather informally to discuss issues and launch collaborations in the area of public and open science practice. These are topics of growing importance among funding agencies, universities, researchers, and libraries and have major implications for research visibility, reproducibility, and scholarly communication. Through the “unconference,” the Libraries will foster research partnerships, enhancing our ability to support open science research, reinforcing its central position as a neutral space for scientific research collaboration.

CORAL Workflow Tool Enhancement—CORAL is an open source Electronic Resources Management System (ERMS) with workflow functionality that complements the Libraries’ homegrown ERMS, E-Matrix. Its enhancement more tightly integrates collections and acquisitions at the Libraries, improving efficiency for acquisition, cataloging, and access workflows initiated by collections specialists. The Libraries contributed these workflow management enhancements to the larger CORAL community, expanding our role in the open source community.

Coffee and VizThis popular event series brings the visualization community at NC State together and promotes the ever-expanding Libraries services in this area. Providing a forum for NC State researchers to share their visualization work and discuss topics of interest related to visualization, these headline programs feature a guest speaker, provide interactive workshop opportunities, and develop collaborations around two new Chancellor’s Faculty Excellence clusters in public science and visual narrative.

Alternative TextbooksThis program provides small-grant funding to instructors who create low-cost, open alternatives to traditional commercial textbooks, alleviating a substantial financial burden on students. Saving students over $200,000 in its first year, the program connects stakeholders across the university to librarians who help them generate pedagogically rich learning resources that “do something a traditional textbook can't.” The Libraries’ “Good Ideas” grant expanded the Alternative Textbook program in its second year after an initial grant from the NC State Foundation.