Library Innovation Grants Will Spur Student Creativity

September 7, 2017

Awards will fund creative arts projects, GIF contest

Innovation Award winners photograph

Library Innovation Award winners (l to r) Jennie Goforth, Kelsey Hammer, Alice Whiteside, and Liz Ott will manage projects that encourage students to make creative use of Carolina’s libraries. (Photo by Aleah Howell)

Two projects launching this fall will encourage UNC students to mine Carolina’s vast library collections for creative inspiration.

“Incubator Awards: Research Grants for Creative Artists” will fund several competitive grants for student artists, writers, and performing artists. Recipients will create artistic works based on research conducted in UNC’s special collections. These include the Wilson Special Collections Library, the Health Sciences Library special collections, and special collections at the Music Library and the Sloane Art Library.

The concept for the grant comes from the Library as Incubator Project, which promotes collaboration between libraries and artists of all types.

“We hope to diversify the use of library collections and engage with students who will adapt, critique, remix, and re-envision them through their projects,” said Liz Ott, interim curator of the Rare Book Collection at Wilson Special Collections Library.

Ott and art librarian Alice Whiteside are the project sponsors. They will oversee the application and grant process. Grants will fund projects by individuals ($1,000) or groups ($3,000). Recipients will exhibit or perform their works and discuss their process at a showcase event in the spring.

The second project, “GIFable UNC, will give one of the most popular and vibrant forms of modern communication a Carolina twist.

Students will participate in a community competition to create GIFs that represent the UNC story. GIFs are a form of animated looping images popular on social media.

“Students are interested in creating GIFs because they see and use them all the time,” said Kelsey Hammer, a graduate assistant at the Undergraduate Library.

Creating GIFs is a fun learning opportunity in disguise, she said. The process encourages students to solve design, composition, technology, and storytelling problems that they will encounter throughout their academic careers.

Hammer, along with Jennie Goforth, research and design services librarian, will organize the GIF competition with prizes in three categories: UNC History, UNC 2017, and People’s Choice. UNC’s University Archives will provide access to historical media for students to re-use, and will also archive the GIFs for posterity.

Both the Incubator Awards and GIFable UNC are funded through the UNC Library’s internal Innovation Grants program. The annual grants allow Library staff members to propose start-up or pilot projects that make a difference on campus and beyond.

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