With the advent of the information age, digital literacy, and the ease of access to ebooks and reduced pricing, industry watchers have been warning for several years that libraries are on their way out. Thankfully, while libraries as we once knew them may be evolving, they’re far from dying.
A new challenge issued by the Knight Foundation proves it. The organization opened the Knight News Challenge on Libraries last February in order to reimagine libraries as vital institutions that still meet the digital needs of the public. As the fourteen winners’ projects have shown, there’s not only still a need for library spaces, but that need has grown rather than fallen away in the face of greater internet access and device penetration.
Five project winners received top funding in amounts ranging between $150,000 and nearly $400,000. Of these five winners, projects included making libraries more accessible to the public writer-editors of Wikipedia and building a community of librarians as Wikipedia contributors; three separate projects involved some form of historical perspective or community building through storytelling, including one that sought to connect children to their incarcerated parents; and one project–not so surprisingly–was designed around helping libraries find and receive much-needed funding sources.
An additional nine projects were also granted monetary awards, each receiving $35,000 in order to support the submissions’ goals. Those projects had varied goals, all centered around making libraries a stronger, more vital, and more protected community resource.
According to a statement on this year’s challenge and its intended outcomes, “Since 2007 Knight Foundation has provided more than $53 million in funding to 210 projects through the News Challenge. In addition to funding, winners receive support from Knight’s network of influential peers and advisers to help advance their ideas.” For a complete list of winning projects, click here.