In the 12th annual Knight News Challenge, organizers asked this question: “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” Twenty-two winners answered that challenge, and their names were announced January 30 at the 2015 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.
ALA President Courtney L. Young opened the session, drawing a parallel between the mission of the Knight Foundation and ALA, both of which, she said, believe in the democratizing effect of keeping the public informed and engaged.
This year’s News Challenge received 680 submissions, which were narrowed down to 41 semifinalists. In the end, 22 grant recipients—14 prototypes projects and eight larger projects—will share $3 million to launch their programs.
John Bracken, vice president of media innovation at the Knight Foundation, discussed the transformational change in libraries and highlighted the winners of this year’s first-ever library-focused News Challenge. Along with providing open civic spaces, curating collections, and being a trusted source within the community, “libraries have a longstanding tradition of freedom of expression,” Bracken said.
Among the 22 winners are:
- Metropolitan New York Library Council for its Culture in Transit program, helping communities share their histories online by creating a mobile kit that will scan and digitize print materials for public archiving ($330,000)
- Library Freedom Project for providing librarians and their patrons with tools and information to better understand their digital rights by scaling a series of privacy workshops for librarians ($244,700)
- Library for All: Digital Library for the Developing World, which makes educational content available at libraries and schools across the developing world through a digital platform designed specifically for low-bandwidth environments ($265,000)
- Evenly Distributed’s Measure the Future, a project that helps libraries better manage their building space by using open hardware to track data about its public spaces ($130,000)
- New York Public Library’s Space/Time Directory, which works with local communities and technologists to turn historical maps and other library collections into an interactive directory to explore New York across time periods ($380,000)
- Miami-Dade Public Library’s Co-Working at the Library project, which provides freelancers, entrepreneurs, and innovators a collaborative space for coworking in Miami-Dade libraries ($35,000)
- Seattle Public Library’s Your Next Skill, helping people acquire new skills or expand their knowledge by creating a librarian-led referral service that connects users with materials, classes, and instructors to help them meet their goals ($35,000)
- Digital News Archive by University of Missouri Libraries and the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute, which aims to ensure access to digital news content through development of a model for archiving and preserving digital content that can be used across the country ($35,000)
Many of the winners will present updates on their projects at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco. Find the full list of 2015 News Challenge grant recipients here.