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New Services Initiative Fund: Preliminary Concept Proposal

TO:                  Paula Kaufman and the Executive Committee

FROM:             Bob Burger and the Services Committee

DATE:              April 5, 2005

RE:                  New Services Initiative Fund: Preliminary Concept Proposal


Today is an exciting time for innovations in libraries.  New technologies and service models provide unprecedented opportunities to tailor the delivery of research material and services to individual user's learning styles and study habits.  But studying and implementing these opportunities takes both time and money to be done correctly, or even at all. We would like to recommend that EC use ICR funds to provide seed funding for new and innovative service ideas or to improve current services.


Currently the Library provides funding for research and travel, and this funding has enabled our faculty to work on state-of-the art research projects and to represent the University Library at meetings and countries around the country.  However, similar funding is not available to support new services initiatives proposed by faculty members.  The recent advances that the library has made in new services (such as Chat Reference) have been done entirely without monetary support from any central library group.  The Services committee feels that with access to some funding, we could encourage and support the development of new services in the Library.  This funding approach was discussed at the recent Collections Library Forum and seemed to strike a positive chord in the participants. 


Other organizations have adopted forward thinking approaches that reward employee initiatives.  Google, for example, encourages employees to take 20% of their time and devote it to researching new applications and products.  Recently, they even began offering the Google Founders' Awards, which provide cash prizes up to $1.5 million for the creation of new and innovative services. [1]   Initiatives such as these reward innovation, and send a clear message that an institution is committed to developing the best possible services.


The Services Advisory Committee proposes that the library establish a New Services Initiatives Fund using ICR funds for projects that develop new or improve old library services.  If EC approves the concept for this project, the Services committee will develop an administrative structure and application criteria for EC to review.


We look forward to your comments on this proposal and hope that we will be able to move forward on developing a New Services Initiatives Fund.


[1] See: