Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium Receives Mellon Foundation Grant

Three-year $775,000 grant will be used to enhance digital collections

May 21, 2013 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The Five Colleges of Ohio, Inc., a higher learning consortium consisting of Denison University, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, and The College of Wooster, has been awarded a three-year $775,000 grant by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to strengthen the digital capabilities of the libraries and embed the use of digital scholarship practices into the liberal arts curriculum.

The grant, titled “Digital Collections: from Projects to Pedagogy and Scholarship,” is a continuation of the three-year “Next Steps in the Next Generation Library” grant, which enabled librarians, faculty, and students to produce more than 50 digitization projects in a wide range of disciplines. Many are showcased in a public portal.

The new grant, collaboratively developed by the Ohio Five libraries, focuses on creating digital resources to enhance faculty and student research, teaching, and learning using emerging aspects of media literacy, scholarly communication, information literacy, information management, and digital publishing. An additional priority of the grant is to make the scholarship of Ohio Five faculty and students more visible and accessible.

Sean Decatur, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Oberlin College and president-elect of Kenyon College, said that increased faculty engagement with digital scholarship is an essential objective for all five campuses. “This new grant will enable more of our faculty to experience the positive pedagogical impacts of digital collections that are created for the specific goal of enhancing student learning,” he said. “It will also enable us to build on the very positive working relationships that have been established between librarians and faculty.”

The grant initiative is based on five primary objectives: (1) to provide the libraries with resources to foster development of curriculum-driven digital collections in partnership with students and faculty while expanding the scope of the projects whenever possible to include digital scholarship practices; (2) to hire a digital scholar who will foster the development of new collections, support digital scholarship efforts, and engage our campus communities in related considerations of pedagogy; (3) to mount additional efforts to capture and provide open access to student and faculty scholarship; (4) to support continued professional staff development and collaboration within and across the Ohio Five library organizations to best address the needs of faculty researchers; and (5) to facilitate the creation of new collaborations with similar institutions, particularly those focused on the digital humanities, and broadly disseminate the products and processes developed under the grant.

“The initial Mellon grant significantly accelerated the Ohio Five libraries’ abilities to support digital initiatives and demonstrated the efficiencies realized when five outstanding colleges work together,” said Mark Christel, director of libraries at Wooster and project director for the consortial grant. “Under the new grant, we hope to become even more ambitious in the size and scope of the projects we undertake.”