Faculty Guidelines

Digital Collections: from Projects to Pedagogy and Scholarship

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to the Five Colleges of Ohio, Inc.
Faculty Guidelines 

I. General Information

The Digital Collections (DC) Grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation includes substantial funds to support the development of both digital collections and digital scholarship projects designed to enhance student learning. Each of the Five Colleges will award curriculum development grants to faculty interested in partnering with their libraries to build such collections or projects.

Each campus committee will invite faculty proposals for these curriculum development projects focused on the creation of digital collections or digital scholarship. Proposals featuring any of the following are particularly encouraged:

  • Student involvement in selection, creation, and/or description of materials (either assisting in the development of the course or as a part of the actual student course activities)
  • Collections using or complementing holdings from Special Collections or Archives
  • Faculty developed collections for courses that would be significantly enhanced through the addition of this new digital content
  • Local collections of curricular interest
  • Collections with potential use by multiple courses or disciplines
  • Digital scholarship projects that use digital methodologies to engage materials in new ways and create new contexts for users’ interactions with the materials (e.g., text editing, text mining and analysis, data visualization, GIS)
  • Database construction that includes an innovative user interface
  • Proposals that hold great potential to help us consider how digital objects can be meaningfully integrated into the liberal arts curriculum
  • Projects with interest to other liberal arts institutions, especially the Ohio Five colleges

In addition to the curriculum development grants, each campus will also use portions of their funding to create openly accessible archives of the scholarly output of their institutions, potentially including both faculty and student research materials.

II. Overall Guidelines

The primary purpose of the curriculum development awards is to assist faculty in creating digital collections and digital scholarship projects that are integrated into courses in substantive ways, working in close collaboration with librarians or archivists on their campus. Additionally, grants can be made for either new course development or modification of existing courses. New courses must be authorized according to the relevant procedures at each institution. Both the proposals and the projects themselves must be developed in collaboration with a librarian or librarians.

Membership of the campus selection committee will include, but not be limited to, the library director, a special collections librarian or archivist, a faculty member, an academic officer, and a digital resources or technology specialist. This group, in addition to soliciting proposals and awarding local curriculum development grants, also serves as a key resource for faculty.

III. Curriculum Development Grants

Mellon DC funds may be used in several forms, including student or temporary staff labor, purchase of equipment or software, outsourced digitization or programming services, travel costs related to a project, and materials. Practices may vary from campus to campus (e.g. one campus may provide student staffing for the library to digitize materials and another may provide funds for a faculty member to hire students directly). Please discuss local procedures with your librarian as you develop a proposal.

A. Materials and Equipment

While Mellon DC grants will cover many incidental material expenses, they are not intended primarily to purchase hardware or software. Faculty with special hardware or software needs should first consult with local campus providers to determine what is available for their use. Equipment needs should also be discussed with your librarian as you prepare your proposal.

B. Travel

A Mellon DC grant may fund travel in conjunction with cross-institutional collaboration, conference presentations and invited talks related to the project. However, food cannot be covered by the current grant guidelines.

C. Temporary Library Staffing

A Mellon DC grant may also fund temporary library staffing, either directly supporting a project or indirectly supporting a project by freeing up a permanent staff member to participate in a project.

Expenses for each curriculum development project will be paid as they are incurred, following submission of expense documentation.

IV. Announcement of Request for Proposals

Each campus committee will publicize the availability of the Mellon DC grants to their faculty according to their local needs and institutional schedule. The Steering Committee will develop a sample letter that can be used by each campus to announce the availability of awards.

V. Proposals 

A faculty member who wishes to receive a Mellon DC grant must collaborate with a librarian or archivist. Faculty considering a project should complete the online Initial Interest Form to begin the process. The appropriate librarian or archivist will then be in touch for initial informal discussions about the subject and scope of the project. Working with the librarian, the faculty member will then develop a brief project proposal (2-3 pages). The proposal should include:

  1. a description of the nature of the project and potential for curricular integration
  2. a timeline for implementation,
  3. sources of financial support other than the Mellon DC grant,
  4. a description of the role of the libraries/librarian(s) and/or archivist(s),
  5. venues for dissemination to a wider audience (conferences, publications, websites),
  6. a budget, and
  7. a plan to assess the effectiveness of the course development or renovation
  8. a discussion of the project’s sustainability that considers, for example, its imagined lifespan

If members of the campus selection committee are directly involved in a proposed project, they will recuse themselves when the committee is considering that proposal.

The following proposals have been made available as informational examples with permission from the projects’ faculty directors:


VI. Faculty Responsibilities

A. Collaboration with a Librarian and/or Archivist

Faculty who receive Mellon DC grants will be expected to collaborate with a librarian or archivist and are encouraged to participate in workshops designed to share their experience with colleagues at their home campus and, as appropriate, with the other campuses of the Five Colleges. Awarding of funds carries a commitment on the part of the faculty member to carry out the project and teach the course or courses involved.

B. Reports.

A faculty member who receives a Mellon DC grant for curricular development is expected to submit a report, approximately 2-3 pages in length, to the campus committee within two months after the course has been taught for the first time. The report should address the ways in which the course incorporated digital collections or methodologies in accordance with the original proposal, the approximate amount of time devoted to the project development, feedback from students, and the faculty member’s assessment of the overall success of the project based on the initial teaching experience.

C. Collaborating Librarians and Archivists.

The participating librarians and archivists also have specific project responsibilities and reporting duties. These responsibilities will vary by project and should be outlined clearly in project proposals as they develop.

D. Intellectual Property, Copyright, and Open Access.

Compliance with all applicable copyright laws in the creation and distribution of materials for this project and consent to make the digitized materials and metadata openly accessible and available for educational use to the greatest extent possible. Please see the “Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Policy on Intellectual Property.”

VII. Campus Committee Communication

For each funded proposal, the campus committee should submit the following materials to the Five Colleges of Ohio grant director and the executive director:

  1. copies of the proposal, award confirmation letter, and approved budget (to be submitted at the time the grant is awarded),
  2. copies of the final report (at the time of its receipt)