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New competition helps address library collections needs

September 19, 2019 By Natasha Kassulke

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison know the value of campus librarians and libraries in ensuring access to print and digital materials, providing collections and citation expertise, and offering grant and public access compliance support.

UW–Madison Libraries’ rich collections range from rare books and manuscripts to musical theater, recorded sound, women’s studies, LGBTQ+ , agriculture, environmental studies and artists’ books. The Libraries also play an ever-increasing part in managing research data and facilitating user discovery across today’s complex information landscape.

Photo: Long standing between library shelves paging through book

Harvey Long, a library and information studies graduate student, looks through photo albums from the 1870s and 1880s while doing research at University Archives and Records Management Service in Steenbock Library in 2016. Photo: Jeff Miller

Building on the Libraries’ role as stewards of research resources and support, the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education has launched a new effort to augment collections at UW–Madison. The Library Collections Enhancement Initiative is a pilot program to strengthen campus research capacities by providing Libraries with greater flexibility to address critical and emerging collections needs, explains Florence Hsia, associate vice chancellor for research in the arts and humanities.

The program calls for proposals for one-time purchases of library titles that are focused on a specific research area (continuing costs are not allowed). They must be made by at least one faculty member in partnership with at least one librarian with relevant subject expertise, but team proposals are also welcome.

Proposals can be subject-focused or interdisciplinary. Average proposals are anticipated to be in the range of $10,000 to $25,000.

At UW–Madison, users with a NetID have access to more than 1,400 article databases, some 10 million print volumes and 1.3 million e-books, and another 7 million items in formats from maps to musical scores and government documents.

As rising journal and database subscription costs put increased pressure on academic research library collections budgets, demand remains high. In 2018, UW–Madison Libraries handled more than 6 million searches and hosted the second most-visited website at the university behind the main homepage.

Photo: Books on a shelf

Books in the East Asian Area Studies Collection are pictured in the north stacks of Memorial Library. Photo: Jeff Miller

“The Libraries are grateful to the OVCRGE for recognizing and celebrating the value and impact of librarian and faculty partnerships,” says Lisa Carter, vice provost for libraries and university librarian. “These relationships help identify crucial resources to add to our collections and build the collections strength that makes the Libraries a critical asset to the research excellence of UW–Madison. This commitment also cultivates relationships that enhance the collections available to not only our students, faculty and staff, but the world, for years to come.”

The Library Collections Enhancement Initiative is supported by a $250,000 investment from the OVCRGE with support from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF). Applications are due by Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 4:30 p.m. Award notifications will be sent in March 2020, with funding to begin on July 1, 2020.

To apply: Online application form | Additional information and instructions

Novelist Neil Gaiman, in describing what’s happening to research in digital times, said: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”