KnightBlog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Communities
Jun 26, 2015

First Knight News Challenge of 2016 to focus on libraries

Posted by Chris Barr and John Bracken

Photo credit: Aspen Institute blog.

Along with several of our Knight Foundation colleagues, we’re at the American Library Association’s annual conference in San Francisco through Monday. If you’re at the conference, you can come find us in booth 3731 at Moscone Center (see this post from Nina Zenni about panels and demos involving Knight grantees).

Knight Foundation’s support for libraries is longstanding. Since 1971, when we made our first library grant ($200,000 to the Council of Friends Groups of Akron-Summit County Public Library), we’ve made over 180 grants funding library projects across the country. The importance of libraries was a key finding of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy last decade. More recently, we’ve provided support for technology infrastructure for libraries in Knight communities and supported the launch of the Digital Public Library of America; today we announced further support to help the DPLA expand. Late last year, we focused the Knight News Challenge, our media innovation funding initiative, on libraries. We funded 22 projects, many of which will be at the ALA and sharing their work in our booth.

We were taken with the passion and interest in the library community when we launched the News Challenge last September. When we brought together a group of advisers to help us review the ideas from the challenge, they urged us to do and learn more with libraries. During that meeting, we began to discuss the idea of conducting a second News Challenge on Libraries.

Today we are happy to share that we will run a second challenge focused on library innovation in 2016, and we would like your thoughts to help shape the challenge around the future needs and opportunities for libraries. Please share your thoughts with us on Twitter using the hashtag #newschallenge by Aug. 1.  

Here are a handful of questions to get you started, but any thoughts on the future of libraries will be helpful:

  • What new ways could libraries connect to outside partners, institutions or audiences?
  • How should libraries prioritize their resources?
  • What amazing things happening in libraries should be amplified?
  • Whose work in libraries should Knight Foundation know about?
  • What will libraries look like in 10, 20 or 50 years?
  • What challenges does your library face adapting to the digital age?

We’ll announce the specific question for the challenge in 2016 and open the call for ideas in March. And we will present the winners at the ALA annual conference in Orlando next summer.

Chris Barr is director of media innovation and John Bracken is vice president for media innovation at Knight Foundation. Follow them on Twitter @heychrisbarr and @jsb.

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