The Knight Foundation recently issued a news challenge: How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities? Here at the University of Maryland Libraries, we felt that we had an idea.
“We will develop tools that enable users of digitized newspapers to intuitively create connections between the concepts, people, places, things, and ideas written about in the newspaper pages, which will facilitate further discovery and analysis by researchers at all levels.”
The process of working on this application was fun and inspiring. Our Associate Dean for Digital Systems and Stewardship, Babak Hamidzadeh, had the original vision. He enlisted myself (Jennie Knies) and Liz Caringola, our Maryland Historic Newspapers librarian, to help flesh out some of the ideas. The UMD Libraries’ Communications director, Eric Bartheld, and our Director of Development, Heather Foss, also contributed. Ed Summers (MITH) and Dr. Ira Chinoy (Journalism) provided excellent feedback and encouragement. Rebecca Wilson, the UMD Libraries’ graphic designer, created this compelling graphic under a very tight deadline.
The application itself had very strict word/character requirements, which was a fascinating challenge in itself. 750 characters (that includes spaces!) to communicate the entire idea?
We think that we are uniquely positioned to develop these types of tools – we have the enthusiasm, the content (thanks to the Maryland Historic Newspapers project and to Chronicling America), and the resources and expertise to make this a reality. Fingers-crossed that we get a lot of “applause!” There are a lot of amazing proposals for the Knight Foundation to choose from, but I hope we get to be one of them.