10 Nov Scout Project plans online library portal with $2.6 million grant
Madison, Wis. — The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Internet Scout Project will use a recent $2.6 million grant to develop a program that will provide community and technical college educators access to the National Science Digital Library.
“NSDL is a concept that the National Science Foundation came up with to create a huge digital library of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and mathematics — resources. There have been a number of projects started and funded by the NSF to establish this library,” said Rachael Bower, co-director of the Internet Scout Project.
Pathways is one such program that the NSF funds in order to provide resources for the instructors, students, and other users that benefit from the digital library. The Internet Scout Project, one of four recipients of NSF grants, will develop the Applied Mathematics and Science Education Repository as its Pathways project.
“The Pathways grants were an effort by the National Science Foundation to encourage development in areas of stewardship,” Bower said. “You pick an area of stewardship — a part of this huge project — and try to help people in that area gain as much access as possible. We decided to choose community and technical colleges, since they educate about 40 percent of undergrads in this country with only about 18 percent of the funding.”
The repository project will use the software that the Scout Project has already developed, called CWIS, to build a portal that will allow community and technical college faculty to access the digital library from anywhere. Bower said CWIS allows a simple portal to be set up in 5 to 10 minutes.
“Like regular libraries, there are materials and there are reference desks to help people use those materials” Bower said. The NSF has been collecting resources and materials for the online library, and the Pathways projects that it has funded will serve as online reference desks to all of the communities they reach.
“We’ll be building services to build weekly and monthly bulletins to help these colleges gain access to the NSDL,” Bower said. “We’ll [also] be doing some training with faculty to help them use the resources that are in the portal.”
The Scout Project will use the resources that it has already developed in conjunction with its NSF grant to update the CWIS technologies.
While the repository is the specific focus of the grant, the Internet Scout Project provides other online resources that connect users with the information available in the digital library. These projects include Access NDSL, which concentrates on making the library accessible to people with disabilities, and the NDSL Scout Reports, which offer information about online resources. They run entirely on grants and donations.
“We’re always looking for future funds,” Bower said. “Some of the things we’ll continue – like the Scout Report, which always continues – but some things, as we run out of funding, we drop.”
Katy Williams is a Madison-based correspondent for WTN at can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.