Grant Writing

Our final project for GSLIS 756 – Managing New Technologies was to create a mock grant proposal, including a Letter of Intent, a Cover Letter, and the Final Grant Proposal. Attached below is the grant proposal that I developed to create an alternative portal to a fictional library’s OPAC using Scriblio and WordPress.

Letter of Intent

 

 

Dr. Claudia A. Perry, Chairperson
GSLIS Library Foundation
P.O. Box Perry
Queens, NY 11367

e-Claire – A Web 2.0 Library Portal Alternative: A grant proposal

Dear Dr. Perry,

The Ernest T. Clairemont is a small, academic library whose mission is to support the curriculum of Starling Community College. Our collection contains around 90,000 books, and we subscribe to over 8,000 periodicals. We have approximately 3,000 audio-visual items, all in diverse formats. Our e-resources span a wide variety of disciplines, and may be accessed both on and off-campus.

Our student body is diverse in both age and background. The median age is 31. Over half of our 6,500 students report having full time jobs. English is the second language for 16% of our students. Surveys indicate that 79% of our students have access to the Web at home, and most (71%) consider themselves computer literate.

We have a young and vibrant staff of 6 librarians and 4 assistants. We teach a required, one-credit, four week information literacy class that students typically take during their first semester.

Our problem:
We have trouble reaching students.

Statistics reveal that our library portal is not being used much. Our faculty complains that students get their information from Google rather than going to our databases and books shelves. Our informational literacy instructors repeatedly return from classes to report that our website is confusing and unappealing to students, and does not speak their language. Even though our instructors are rated highly in information literacy course evaluations, less than a quarter of our students feel they will use what they learned about the library.

Difficulties with technology do not appear to be the issue. To the contrary, our students generally feel comfortable using the Web (67%). Many (63%) have accounts on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace.

Our students are busy commuters. They may visit the library before and after classes, but more likely they use our website to access library information remotely. If this portal is unappealing and old-fashioned, our library risks losing its relevance.

Our proposed solution:
Our library’s long-term strategic plan is to migrate from our current, Millennium-based OPAC to a more robust, Web 2.0 platform. We want to take advantage of the semantic Web and its collaborative tools. Our portal’s interface needs to be updated, and funding has been promised in the next two to three years.

In the interim, we propose to conduct a pilot project using two open source software programs, WordPress and Scriblio, to develop an alternative portal to our library’s information. It will be tentatively called “e-Claire”.

Many libraries migrating to Web 2.0 have chosen Dropal as their content management system, but our research indicates that the learning curve for Dropal is quite steep. Plymouth State University and others have chosen a WordPress MU /Scriblio platform instead. For Clairemont, this approach seems to be a viable, light-weight, and affordable solution to our problem.

WordPress is a very popular and powerful blogging software program, and its MU (multiple user) plugin allows many users to access its site at the same time. Scriblio is also open source and is designed to import OPAC information into a WordPress library web site.

Expected Results and Benefits:
e-Claire will provide access to our catalog, databases and e-reserves, and will provide alternative ways to drill down to information. There will be pictures, and in-depth descriptions of books, and users will have the opportunity to comment on each item.

e-Claire will grow organically by allowing librarians, assistants and students to post content that nurtures and sustains it. e-Claire will:
• generate daily posts and pictures
• invite student feedback
• announce new acquisitions
• post course links to supplemental readings
• announce current events
• integrate with RSS, Twitter, Facebook, and mobile technology
• present Information Literacy topics and tutorials
• allow students to learn from other students

Our Request:
To develop and run e-Claire, we require a $14,630.11 grant to: (1) set up a centralized office equipped with four web workstations; (2) train our staff in WordPress and Scriblio; and (3) cover our staff expenses. Details for our request are itemized in Appendix A.

A prior GSLIS grant in e-Learning expires in January, 2010, and a room will be available. Clairemont has agreed to an in kind contribution of this space for e-Claire’s development. It has four desks with power supplies and Ethernet connections, but no computer equipment.

Project Milestones:
• January, 2010 – pilot project begins
o March – librarians and assistants are WordPress literate
o June – beta release of e-Claire
o September – on-campus promotion of e-Claire, feedback requests
o October – statistical studies conducted
o November – evaluations of studies and modifications
o December – publication of project’s case study
• January, 2011 – pilot project ends

Evaluation:
Immediately after the beta launch, user feedback posts will be evaluated and addressed. Summer session is typically quiet at Starling, and it is a good time to resolve issues that may be reported. As we promote e-Claire, we will conduct user surveys and analyze data to assess our progress. Are we reaching more users? At the conclusion of the project, we will publish a case study.

Dissemination:
Commuter schools often have problems disseminating news. e-claire will be widely advertised through posters, branded bookmarks, baseball caps, and coffee mugs. We will try to create a buzz on campus and appeal for student content and relevant topics. We will ask instructors to mention e-Claire in their classrooms.

Sustainability:
e-Claire is an ambitious pilot project. If successful, Clairemont will migrate to this platform and use it as its primary portal. Development and maintenance costs for a new portal have already been budgeted in 2012 and 2013. The e-Claire office will continue to operate and expand. As development tasks lessen, more of the day-to-day tasks will be done by interested assistants and students.

Thank you for your interest in our pilot project. Please feel free to contact me at 555-555-5555, or by e-mail. We greatly appreciate your consideration, and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Scott Voth, Coordinator
Technical Services
The Ernest T. Clairemont Library

Appendix A – Expenses

• Equipment — @ $638.98 x 4 = $2,555.92
o Four HP s5210t slim-line PCs
o 3 GB memory
o 500 GB hard drive
o Intel(R) Pentium(R) Dual-Core processor E5400 [2.7GHz, 2MB L2, 800MHz FSB]
o Four 20” monitors
o Four keyboard and mouse setups
o Norton Anti-Virus (15 months – included)

• Software – $1,879.84
Software will be purchased using an academic discount from JourneyEd.
o Microsoft Office @129.98 x 4 = $519.92
o Adobe Creative Suite 4 – @ $339.98 x 4 = $1,359.92

• Hosting and domain name – $194.35
For our beta release, we prefer to use a site hosted by an outside vendor. Daily Razor offers unlimited disk space, PHP, MySQL at a yearly price of $179.40. It charges $14.95 to register a domain name.

• Training – $400.00
Two members of our staff are already familiar with WordPress and there are many good on-line courses to take. Lynda.com offers over 20 hours of WordPress video training, available on the Web for $25.00/month. We will purchase 4 months training for each of our PCs. ($400.00).

None of our staff members know Scriblio, but we anticipate only a subset of our development team will be required to use it. Much has been written about it, but training is currently not available. Our two lead developers will study the documentation, and collaborate with the growing Scriblio user community.

• Staff expenses – $9,600.00
Development of e-Claire will require many hours of work from our staff. Obviously it is unrealistic to think the work will be evenly distributed, but our goal is to involve all librarians and assistants. For the purposes of this grant, we estimate that over the year, our six librarians will need to devote 15% of their time (approximately 35 days/librarian) to develop e-Claire, and our four assistants will devote 10% (approximately 23 days/assistant).

We need to compensate for the loss of 305 work days. Unpaid interns from a local graduate school in library science will cover around 215 days. This has been an accepted way of handling externally-funded development projects at Clairemont. To cover the remaining 80 days, part time library assistants will be hired at $120.00 per day, which totals $9,600.00.

Appendix B – Expense Table

Equipment $2,555.92
Software $1,879.84
Hosting &Domain $194.35
Training $400.00
Staff $9,600.00
Total $14,630.11

Cover Letter

Dr. Claudia A. Perry, Chairperson
GSLIS Library Foundation
P.O. Box Perry
Queens, NY 11367

e-Claire – A Web 2.0 Library Portal Alternative
Dear Dr. Perry,

I am the new director of Clairemont Library. I believe you know my predecessor, James Doe who successfully implemented a digital imaging project two years ago with the help of GSLIS Funding. He has since moved to another college, but left behind a tradition of tackling ambitious initiatives. I hope to follow in his footsteps.

As we mentioned in our previous letter, we have trouble reaching our students. Studies have shown that our library is under-used, and that students primarily turn to the Web for their informational needs (Clairemont Library usage, 2008, para 3-5). Our current user interface is outdated and does not conform to the way students are accustomed to retrieving information. The richness of Clairemont’s resources goes largely unseen. We are failing in our mission to support the curriculum of the college.

Much current literature addresses this problem and many different ways to “reinvent” the OPAC have been proposed (see Eden, 2007). Our technology coordinator and I recently attended the WordPress Camp NYC, and met Casey Bisson, the librarian at Plymouth State College in New Hampshire who developed Scriblio, a WordPress plug-in that provides an affordable and attractive means to “enhance” OPAC records. We feel his idea of presenting each bibliographic record as a WordPress “blog post” is truly revolutionary — especially when each post is dynamically enriched by external connections to Amazon, Open Library, Google Books and Library Thing (Bisson, 2009).

We propose a pilot project to develop a Web 2.0 alternate portal to our resources. Tentatively called e-Claire, it will be built on a WordPress/Scriblio platform. Enclosed is our detailed proposal. We feel e-Claire has the potential to transform Clairemont Library and change the way our students perceive the library. To accomplish this, we ask the GSLIS Library Foundation for a grant of $14,630.

Our staff is very excited that the GSLIS Library Foundation is considering our project. Thank you, and please do not hesitate to contact me at 555-555-5555 if you have any questions. We are eager to start work!

Sincerely,

John Smith, Director
Ernest T. Clairemont Library
Starling Community College

Final Grant Proposal

e-Claire – A Web 2.0 Library Portal Alternative

Part 1 – Project Description

Project Summary:

Statistics reveal that our library portal is not being widely used. Our faculty complains that students get their information from Google rather than going to our library’s databases and bookshelves. Even though our informational literacy instructors report that students find our website confusing and unappealing, difficulties with technology do not appear to be the issue. To the contrary, our students generally feel comfortable using the Web and many spend time on social sites such as Facebook and MySpace (Clairemont Library Usage, 2008, para. 3-5). We are losing our relevance because our portal is overly complicated, old-fashioned and does not conform to our students’ normal web experience.

To address this problem, we propose to conduct a pilot project to develop an alternative portal called e-Claire. It will be built on a WordPress platform to take advantage of the blogging functionality and robust, open source plug-ins that are available. We will take as our model Lamson Library at Plymouth State University (NH), where librarian Casey Bison has developed and implemented a WordPress plug-in called Scriblio that ingests OPAC catalog records as blog posts, and uses a series of “connectors” to enhance bibliographic data from external service providers like Open Library, Amazon, Google Books, and Library Thing (Bisson, 2009).

Key Objectives:

The mission of Clairemont Library is to support the curriculum of the students at Starling Community College, and our project’s objectives will significantly contribute to this goal.

Our key objectives are:

 Provide a user-friendly portal that interfaces with Web 2.0 tools
Surveys show that our students are accustomed to Google, RSS, and Twitter (Clairemont Library Usage, 2009, para. 6-8). Built on a WordPress platform, e-Claire can take advantage of many open source plug-ins to rapidly adapt to these and other new technologies.

 Change our students’ perception of the library
e-Claire will announce current events, invite student feedback, promote new acquisitions, and integrate with campus life and the curriculum.

 Enhance OPAC search results by connecting to external sources
Rather than blandly listing catalog records, e-Claire will provide a rich assortment of information, including jacket images, summaries, reviews, and external links, as well as internal tag links created by our staff and our students.

Who will be served:

The primary audience for e-Claire is our 6,500 students. They are busy commuters who may visit the library before and after classes, but who are more likely to access library information remotely. Their median age is 31. Over half of them report having full time jobs. Surveys indicate that 79% of our students have access to the Web at home, and most (71%) consider themselves computer literate (Demographics at Starling, 2008, para. 5-6).

Our faculty will also benefit from e-Claire. Members will be able to post course information, readings and assignments on the portal. Special blogs can be created to pull together resources pertinent to research projects.

A third audience for our project is the general librarian community – we are certain other librarians are facing similar issues with their own portals. They may profit by reading about the lessons we have learned developing e-Claire. Once completed, a case study will be published and available on the Web (see Evaluation section, below).

Expected Results and Benefits:

e-Claire will provide access to our catalog, databases and e-reserves, and will provide alternative ways to drill down to information using what Scriblio calls “facets”. Each search generates a list of clickable facets on the right hand side of the screen that shows possible subdivisions or categories to investigate, along with the number of results in each. Facets are configurable in Scriblio. Commonly used ones include Scope (where to search – i.e. books, blogs, catalog, entire site, etc.), Subject, Author, and Year of Publication (What are Facets, 2007).

There will be pictures and descriptions of books, and users will have the opportunity to comment on each item. Natural language searching will be available.

e-Claire will grow organically by allowing librarians, assistants and students to post content that nurtures and sustains it. e-Claire will:

• generate daily posts and pictures
• invite student feedback
• announce new acquisitions
• post course links to supplemental readings
• announce current events
• integrate with RSS, Twitter, Facebook, and mobile technology
• present Information Literacy topics and tutorials
• allow students to learn from other students
Publicity:

Commuter schools often have problems distributing news. Both students and faculty tend to arrive just before class and leave right after.

We understand that we need to aggressively promote e-Claire. It will be widely advertised through posters, branded bookmarks, baseball caps, and coffee mugs. We will try to create a buzz on campus and appeal for student content and relevant topics. We will ask instructors to mention e-Claire in their classrooms and post links on the site for their classes.

Our current interface will be modified to link to e-Claire.

Personnel:

We have a young and vibrant staff of 6 librarians and 4 assistants.

Jim Doe will head the project. He is the most senior member at Clairemont, and is familiar with WordPress. He has managed several externally funded projects and has successfully interfaced with our IT department.

We will divide our staff into two teams, technical and strategic. Jane Doe has more than two years experience with WordPress, and will be the technical lead on the project. Kim Doe is our Information Literacy coordinator and will serve as the strategic lead.

Project Timeline:

Work on e-Claire will begin in January, 2010 and last one year. Our staff will operate in two teams: one technical and the other strategic.

Below are listed the activities we foresee each group tackling:

Month                             Team                               Activity

January-March Both teams WordPress training and sharing of knowledge – team members will take Lynda.com courses, watch WordPress TV and use other on-line resources to master the software. More advanced members will help novices.

January Technical team Install WordPress, WordPress MU, and Scriblio on Website. Work with campus IT department to export OPAC records. Set up wiki to record experiences and share information. Set up e-Claire computers and load software.

January-March Strategic team Create e-Claire Headquarters. Develop relationships with student organizations and faculty. Start prototype for “Today at Clairemont” blog. Assemble and publish some initial posts. Take pictures. Experiment with blogging and commenting. Develop a process to accept or reject comments.

February Technical team Load OPAC records into Scriblio and code ‘connector’ to them. Configure Scriblio “facets”. Design the site’s look-and-feel (will change as project progresses).

March-May Technical team Code external connectors to hook into Google Books, Amazon, Open Library, Library Thing, etc.

May-July Both teams Unit testing and integration testing. Compare results from old interface to ensure e-Claire is bring back the correct search results. Ensure facets and external connectors are working. Test Twitter and RSS functionality.

July-August Both teams BETA Launch
Usability testing – assemble group of volunteers to test drive e-Claire

September Strategic Team Fall semester begins with on-campus promotion of e-Claire – posters, signs, coffee mugs, hats, etc. Faculty members are encouraged to use e-Claire to post documents and readings. Ask professors how e-Claire can help with student research.

September Technical Team Add a link on old interface to e-Claire.

September-December Technical Team Collect and analyze usage statistics.

September-December Both Teams Solicit user feedback. Analyze and fix issues. Set up Help Page and FAQ page and a forum to address user questions.

November-December Both Teams Collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. Add results to wiki. Begin outlines for project evaluation. Add more information to the About page.

January Both Teams Publish project evaluation.

Evaluation:

Immediately after the beta launch, user feedback posts will be evaluated and addressed, some as bug fixes and others as possible enhancements. As we promote e-Claire, we will conduct user surveys to assess our progress. Are we reaching more users? We will consider both quantitative and qualitative results to triangulate our answer.

Usage statistics of our current portal are already available. We will compare these with e-Claire’s usage statistics to determine if we are making a difference. The number of faculty members using e-Claire to post information can also be measured, as can student contributions to the current events blog.

Surveys will be conducted to analyze how students feel about e-Claire. Our on-going Information Literacy classes will provide valuable insight into how the new portal is being received. Additionally, our staff will report the extent of student involvement in the project.

Dissemination:

Every externally funded project at Starling requires that a final evaluation study be conducted, along with a Lessons Learned section. It is published in our open source journal and available through the various search engines. Clairemont has been fortunate to receive external funding for six other projects in the past, and our librarians have in each case published articles in various library journals. We fully expect that an article about e-Claire will appear in one such journal.

As part of this study we intend to create a wiki to record issues we encounter and solutions we find. This will be available to the public via the Web.

We plan to build an extensive About page that chronicles the work involved in creating e-Claire.

And finally, we will present our experiences with e-Claire at our 2011 annual library conference of community colleges in March.

Sustainability:

We know that e-Claire is an ambitious pilot project, and we are excited about its potential. If successful, Clairemont will migrate to this platform and use it as its primary portal. The e-Claire office will continue to operate and expand.

Part 2 – Project Budget

To develop and run e-Claire, we require a $14,630.11 grant to: (1) set up a central office equipped with four web workstations; (2) host our site; (3) train our staff in WordPress and Scriblio; and (4) provide coverage for our staff members who are working on the project. Please refer to the Table of Expenses for a summary.

The workstations were priced on-line from HP. Software will be purchased using an academic discount from JourneyEd.

For our beta release, we prefer to use a site hosted by an outside vendor.

Training expenses were held to a minimum. Two members of our staff are already familiar with WordPress and there are many good on-line courses to take. Lynda.com offers over 20 hours of WordPress video training, available on the Web for $25.00/month. We will purchase 4 months training for each of our PCs. ($400.00).

None of our staff members know Scriblio, but we anticipate only a subset of our development team will be required to use it. Much has been written about it, but training is currently not available. Our two lead developers will study the documentation, and collaborate with the growing Scriblio user community.

Staff expenses:

Development of e-Claire will require many hours of work from our staff. Obviously it is unrealistic to think the work will be evenly distributed, but our goal is to involve all librarians and assistants. For the purposes of this grant, we estimate that over the year, our six librarians will need to devote 15% of their time (approximately 35 days/librarian) to develop e-Claire, and our four assistants will devote 10% (approximately 23 days/assistant).

We need to compensate for the loss of 305 work days. Unpaid interns from a local graduate school in library science will cover around 215 days. This has been an accepted way of handling externally-funded development projects at Clairemont. To cover the remaining 80 days, part time library assistants will be hired at $120.00 per day, which totals $9,600.00.

In-Kind Contributions:

A prior ITC grant in e-Learning expires in January, 2010, and a room will be available. The library’s director has agreed to an in-kind contribution of this space for e-Claire’s development headquarters. It has four desks with power supplies and Ethernet connections, but no computer equipment.

Publicity is vital to the success of this project, and we will aggressively promote e-Claire. Publicity costs are estimated to be around $1000.00, and will be covered by Clairemont Library.

The library will also hire, train and supervise library students to help defray staff expenses. The library will cover the administrative costs of these unpaid interns.

Table of Expenses

Unit Cost Units Amount
Equipment HP s5210t slim-line PC, Intel® Pentium® Dual Processor E5400, 3 GB memory, 500 GB Hard drive, 20″ monitors, keyboards, mice, 15 months Norton Anti-Virus $ 638.98 4 $ 2,555.92

Software Microsoft Office Professional $ 129.98 4 $ 519.92
Adobe Creative Suite 4 $ 339.98 4 $ 1,359.92

Hosting Daily Razor offers unlimited disk space, PHP, MySQL at $179.40/year $ 179.40 1 $ 179.40

Domain Name Registered through Daily Razor $ 14.95 1 $ 14.95

Training Lynda.com (four months @ $25./month for 4 computers) $ 100.00 4 $ 400.00

Labor Library assistants (80 days at $120.00/day). See above for Details $ 120.00 80 $ 9,600.00

Total $ 14,630.11

Part 4 – List of Sources Cited

References


About Scriblio. (2009). Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://about.scriblio.net/
A fictionalized study: Clairemont Library usage. (2008). Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://www.starlingcollege.edu/clairemontlibraryusage
A fictionalized study: Demographics at Startling College. (2008). Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://www.starlingcollege.edu/handbook.
Bisson, C. (2009). Scriblio: WordPress-powered library catalogs. Lecture delivered at WordPress Camp 2009 NYC. Retrieved December 6, 2009 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iNsECImxdg
Eden, B. (2007, November-December). Reinventing the OPAC. Library Technology Reports, 43(6). 13-40.
HP s5210t series. (2009). Retrieved October 28, 2009 from http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/cto.do
JourneyEd. (2009). Retrieved October 28, 2009 from http://www.journeyed.com/
Lamson Library & Learning Commons. (2009) Plymouth State University. Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://library.plymouth.edu/
Lynda.com (2009). Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://www.lynda.com/
Microsoft Office Standard 2007. (2009). Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://www.journeyed.com/item/Microsoft/Office+Standard/87281473
PHP/Ruby on Rails web hosting plans. (2009). DailyRazor Hosting. Retrieved October 24, 2009 from http://www.dailyrazor.com/php/promo.php
What are Facets? (2008). Retrieved December 10, 2009 from http://about.scriblio.net/wiki/what-are-facets/
WordPressMU. (2009). Retr