Ontario Library Association Discovery Fund: $500 Seed Money for your Innovative Library Project

Posted: July 13, 2012 in Librarianship
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A few months ago, I was approached by superstar librarians Krista Godfrey and Nick Ruest with an interesting opportunity. They had devised a cunning plan to encourage fellow librarians to break their rusty cages and try something new.  Both are members of the Ontario Library Association‘s OLITA group, otherwise known as the Ontario Library and Information Technology Association. OLITA’s primary focus is to foster the promotion and innovative use of emerging technologies in library settings. Together, we’ve created the OLA Discovery Fund, an award designed to provide seed money to help launch interesting and innovative library projects. We’re awarding up to $500  each for the best, most unique and creative ideas. If you work in the information field, and have an idea that you can’t wait to try, read on…

The text below comes courtesy of the Ontario Library Association website. You can see the original and apply for the award by clicking here –> OLA Discovery Fund

Background

Libraries constantly strive to improve their services and communities in new and innovative ways. As library budgets continue to shrink, opportunities to explore new ideas are at risk of being cut to preserve more essential services. Limiting the ability to improve and explore new ideas would undermine libraries’ position to continue to be an important and vital part of our communities. OLA recognizes this and proposes the creation of the OLA Discovery Fund, a fund that would allow libraries to apply for small start up money to explore new and innovative ideas.

The OLA Discovery Fund will act as seed money to begin an innovative idea. As the fund is small, it may not fund the entire project but will aid in getting an idea started. Ideas are not limited to innovation in technology – service innovation, building innovation and other new ideas that push libraries forward are eligible for the fund.

Winners of the OLA Discovery Fund will be required to share their stories. Libraries will thrive by sharing both successes and failures and fund recipients will be required to share their findings with the OLA community.

Participation in the OLA Discovery Fund will not exclude a project from being nominated for other OLA award such as the OLITA Award for Technological Innovation or the Larry Moore Challenge Award.

Process

Application
Applicants (OLA Members) can apply to fund at anytime during the year. Awards will be given out 3 times a year, with a maximum of $500 per award.

Winner Responsibilities
Projects funded by the OLA Discovery Fund will be required to share their findings, whether
they succeed or fail. The project should be shared via OLA communications such as the OLA
website or Access magazine within a year of receiving the fund money.

Committee Responsibilities
An OLA Discovery Fund committee will be responsible for accepting and reviewing nominations.

Timelines
Awards will be given out August 1, and December 1 of each year.

Application & Review Process

  • Media: Participants shall apply online. Participants must provide full contact information (name, position, organization and relevant contact info such as email/phone).
  • Organizer: OLA Discovery Fund committee, a sub-group of OLITA.
  • Task/ Topic specificity The fund will act as seed money to launch or test an innovative idea.
  • Degree of elaboration Participants will submit a brief 500-1000 word summary of their proposal. The proposal should include a description of the idea, the need/problem it addresses, the manner in which it will address this need/problem, why it is innovative, a brief explanation of how the $500 award will be spent and a brief explanation of how project goals will be accomplished.
  • Target group: Individual OLA members, OLA member libraries.
  • Participation: Participants may apply individually, as formal groups (representing formal organizations) or as informal groups of individuals. Participants must be OLA members in good standing to apply.
  • Contest period: Three awards of approximately $500 each will be awarded per year at intervals of approximately four months. Each participant shall be eligible for a maximum of one award per year.
  • Reward/ motivation: A monetary award of $500, the opportunity to gain positive publicity via OLA communications infrastructure (website, Access Magazine, Super Conference etc.), the opportunity to launch a project that will return tangible benefits to the participant.
  • Community functionality Award recipients will be required to communicate their experiences directly to the OLA Discovery Fund committee. Any communications may be used as the committee sees fit. Recipients may also be required to communicate their experiences via other channels (website, Access Magazine, Super Conference etc…).
  • Evaluation: Applications shall be judged by the OLA Discovery Fund committee. Applications will be judged on uniqueness of idea, the idea’s potential to deliver benefits, feasibility/usefulness of the idea.
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