February 16, 2018

Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Awards Will Impact Academic Libraries

By Lynn Blumenstein

Grants for recruitment, research, digital preservation

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  • 33 grants total, several impacting academic libraries
  • Program since 2002
  • Digital information a highlight

The federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded 33 grants totaling $20.4 million as part of the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which since 2002 has provided more than $120 million to recruit, educate, and train new and existing librarians. 

While libraries of all types are beneficiaries awards highlighted below recognize recruitment, continuing education, research, and programs "to build educational capacity" among academic libraries.

Continuing Education

The grant recipients include:

  • University of Arizona, Tucson, will provide scholarships for a diverse group of 80–90 library professionals to earn the DigIn certificate, learning to create, collect, and manage digital information.
  • Council on Library and Information Resources, Washington, DC, partnering with the Council of Independent Colleges, will strengthen the skills of liberal arts college librarians serving predominantly minority and underserved students.
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, will be able to offer its annual Tribal College Librarians Institute, a week-long professional development conference, free of charge along with paid travel costs.
  • New York Public Library and academic library partners will offer eight preservation administration fellowships lasting nine months to recent MLS graduates.

Doctoral Program

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the sole recipient in this category, will support six doctoral fellowships for students to earn an LIS doctoral degree with a specialization in scientific data and information.


Among the grantees:

  • University of Oklahoma, Norman, will recruit and train through an online program 15 academic librarians to work with underserved and minority groups.
  • University of Maryland, College Park, will support 20 online students to earn their MLS degrees with a government information concentration, benefiting from mentoring and internships.


Some of the winners are:

  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, will compare the level of technical support needed for open source integrated library systems versus commercial products.
  • University of Maryland, College Park, will study the copyright practices of libraries, archives, and museums in the digitization of their holdings and how they impact usage.

Building institutional capacity

Grant recipients include:

  • Simmons College, Boston, will partner with cultural institutions to incorporate museum informatics into its existing program, along with scholarships for 30 students, for them to become "cultural heritage professionals."
  • Syracuse University, NY, will develop a digital curation curriculum to manage and preserve science-related information and recruit and provide scholarships to students with a background in the sciences.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will develop a dual master’s degree program including public administration with an emphasis in digital curation. Scholarships, intensive field experiences, and support for one Ph.D student studying are included.

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