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VCU Libraries' Innovative Media receives grant for national data visualization project

November 10, 2017

VCU Libraries will receive $22,000 as a member of a national data visualization project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant is administered by North Carolina State University Libraries. 

NCSU Libraries announced in late October that it had chosen five cohort institutions as part of its $414,000 “Visualizing Digital Scholarship in Libraries and Learning Spaces” grant received from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in May.

The grant supports “the advancement of tools and techniques for developing and sharing large-scale visual content for research.” Grant projects will contribute to the two primary project goals of forming a community of practice of scholars and librarians who work in large-scale multimedia and overcoming technical and resource barriers that limit the number of scholars and libraries who are able to produce digital scholarship for visualization environments.

The cohort includes:

"We're very excited to contribute to the growing community of institutions that are exploring the scholarly use of large-scale visualizations," says Eric Johnson, head of Innovative Media at VCU Libraries. "We hope to build a resource that will not only help libraries like us that are starting to formalize a visualization program, but will serve as a model for any institution starting to explore other emerging technologies and services."

The cohorts were selected by an advisory panel spanning backgrounds in the media, new technologies, business, education and libraries. Cohort institutions will receive funds with with each institution pursuing their own project. Throughout the three-year grant, cohort institutions will use the grant funds to develop their proposed projects and join in general grant activities. After a call for project proposals, the NCSU Libraries chose this cohort from an impressive field.

“We are thrilled to be working with the cohort of institutions selected for the ‘Visualizing Digital Scholarship in Libraries and Learning Spaces’ grant,” says Mike Nutt, Director of Visualization Services and a principal investigator on the project. “Our goal in this project is to make large-scale visualization spaces more impactful and more sustainable. There's simply no way we could do that alone.”

"This cohort represents the growing level of interest in advancing issues of sharing, access, scale, and validation related to emerging forms of large-scale visual digital scholarship,” adds Greg Raschke, Interim Vice Provost and Director of Libraries. “The group brings a variety of diverse, incredibly creative, and promising ideas—covering important ground from software and tool development to building the community of scholars, technologists, and librarians working in this area."

  • VCU Libraries' Innovative Media Department will build a common framework of best practices for institutions to follow when establishing visualization environments. The framework will include: best practices for local needs assessments, best practices for external site visits, a database of visualization environments and a literature collection.
  • The University Library at Brown University will expand development of Glider, their content delivery and interaction framework. The goal and emphasis of the framework is flexibility, extensibility, and ease of use, and offers the ability to: easily position elements within the geometry of the wall setup; assign timing to elements to allow for change over time; distribute and update content across arbitrary displays or sets of displays simultaneously; allow for remote user-to-wall control and other interactions.
  • The Advanced Visualization Lab at Indiana University Bloomington will develop an open-source, easy-to-use, online system called the Multimedia Collectome. The system will enable creation, sharing, and display of collections of related multimedia objects on large-format, ultra-resolution displays, through utilizing modern web standards and interfaces as well as community-sharing mechanisms.
  • The Hearst Museum of Anthropology and Research IT at the University of California, Berkeley will develop tools and workflows to support 3D modeling, including testing/expansion of Jupyter Notebooks and investigating preservation best practices for 3D models.
  • The Grainger Engineering Library Information Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will develop a suite of portable and extensible software modules, learning objects, and templates that can support instruction and research using large-scale visualization environments. The modules will be developed with campus user groups and digital scholarship centers, with the final suite of applications supporting digital scholarship applications, design learning projects, and data analysis applications.

For more information or to contact the project participants, see


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