NCSU Libraries Brings In Major Mellon Grant for Visualization

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NC State has been awarded a $414,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the advancement of tools and techniques for developing and sharing large-scale visual content for research.

Entitled “Visualizing Digital Scholarship in Libraries and Learning Spaces,” the project aims to continue the NCSU Libraries’ pioneering work with large-scale, research visualization technologies. According to Greg Raschke, Associate Director for Collections and Scholarly Communication at the Libraries and one of the project’s principal investigators (PI), in order to move forward with this work, two issues need to be addressed: “One, the absence of a community of practice of scholars and librarians who work in large-scale multimedia prevents visually immersive scholarly work from entering the research lifecycle. And two, many technical and resource barriers limit the number of scholars and libraries who produce digital scholarship for visualization environments.” The other two PIs on the grant are Mike Nutt, the Libraries’ Director of Visualization Services, and Markus Wust, Digital Research and Scholarship Librarian. Christopher Erdmann, Chief Strategist for Research Collaboration, rounds out the project team.

Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Susan K. Nutter is confident that this initiative will provide a variety of opportunities for the NCSU Libraries, NC State University researchers, and the public at large: “The ability to partner with scholars to create transformative, visually based digital scholarship; enhance the role of librarian collaborators; and use innovative visual content to engage communities in the value of scholarship is vital to the future of academic libraries. The NCSU Libraries is thrilled to work with the Mellon Foundation on this exciting effort.”

The grant will provide a fund for four specific elements that cultivate such opportunities. An initial gathering of librarians, scholars, and technologists working in large-scale, library and museum-based visualization environments will set priorities and best practices for the project. A scholars-in-residence program will offer researchers a multi-year period to pursue creative projects in collaboration with librarians. A series of competitive block grants will be made available to other institutions working on similar challenges in creating, disseminating, validating, and preserving digital scholarship created in and for large-scale visual environments. The initiative will culminate in a symposium that brings together the scholars-in-residence and the block grant recipients to share and assess results, organize ways of preserving and disseminating digital products, and build on the methods, templates, and tools developed to pave the way for future projects.

NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson is excited about the potential of this project for NC State and the research community in general: “I have no doubt that these interdisciplinary collaborations will continue to expand our conceptions of visualization-enhanced scholarship, while providing models that can be adapted at institutions across North America.”