Wanted: Creative risk-takers
Innovation grants promote creativity, leadership, service excellence
Southern Import by Janet E. Turner, 1953. Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library. The image is among those used in an innovation grant-funded marketing campaign.
The new Central University Libraries Innovation Grants program celebrates – and rewards – unbounded thinking.
An initiative of the CUL Leadership Team, the program's objective is to "encourage staff to take risks and try new ideas in their pursuit of service excellence."
Library staff members are urged to experiment. Even a project that is tested and deemed unsustainable can yield valuable information, says Bill Dworaczyk, CUL Assistant Dean, Human Resources/Facilities. As a member of the Leadership Team, he serves as coordinator of the program.
The team looked at models from other institutions, including the University of Houston, in developing plans for the award, Dworaczyk says.
"In keeping with the CUL's strategic goals, the program is designed to promote leadership and creativity in staff at any level of the organization, while working toward our ultimate goal of enhancing the library experience for everyone," he explains.
Four teams have been awarded grants since the program was launched in July:
- A focus group project by Julia Stewart, research librarian, and Porcia Vaughn, Fondren stack maintenance manager, with Kappa Delta Chi sorority. The CUL team is observing the student organization's library usage during academic year 2011-12 and monitoring their library literacy skills. The team will use the information they collect to assess undergraduate student needs. Vaughn is preparing a poster session based on information gathered from the study for the LOEX (Library Orientation Exchange) conference in Ohio in May.
- The purchase of an inflatable outdoor theater screen. The request was made by Patricia Van Zandt, Assistant Dean, Scholarly Resources and Research Services, and Lisa Wall, Media Collections Manager, on behalf of the CUL Outreach Committee. The committee plans to use the screen for a variety of educational and entertainment programs for the SMU community. For example, it will allow staff members to demonstrate new web-based services during the annual cookout sponsored by CUL during National Library Week in April. It also will be used to screen movies from CUL's collections throughout the year.
- A branding campaign and promotional efforts by Cindy Boeke, developer for CUL Digital Collections, targeting "Texas Artists: Sculptures, Paintings and Works on Paper" and a family of collections that include images of Texas, Mexico, the U.S. West and the Civil War. The ongoing effort includes distribution of bookmarks, pens, notebooks and other items to raise awareness about the materials and navigate people to them online. Works by Texas artists Jerry Bywaters, DeForrest Judd and Octavio Medellin are among those used so far in the marketing effort.
- "From Lit Review to Publishing," practical workshops offered, by discipline, to graduate students proposed by Rebecca Graff, research librarian, on behalf of the Outreach Committee. Designed for advanced researchers, the programs will include training on performing a thorough literature review with specialized databases, using bibliographic software, obtaining materials with limited availability, and finding publishing opportunities, including the new SMU Digital Repository.
CUL staff may submit proposals at any time, says Dworaczyk. "We review proposals that have been submitted at our monthly Leadership Team meeting, so we can award grants as they come in."
Staff members can find grant requirements, application details, deadlines and funding information on the CUL@Inside.SMU site.