Knight Blog

The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight News Challenge: Libraries moves to ‘feedback phase’

Sept. 30, 2014, 6:30 p.m., Posted by Chris Barr


Knight News Challenge: Libraries is now closed.  We received more than 675 submissions, including some offline; we’re still counting, so the final number may change. Thanks to everyone who entered. Here’s what happens next:

From now until Oct. 21, we’ll be in the “feedback” phase where we review the submissions. We invite everyone to join us in looking through the ideas, asking questions and giving feedback.

We read every application we get, but we’ve also asked nine people to join us as (paid) readers; they’ll go through every application and help us select the semifinalists. You can identify them on the site by the “reader” tags on their profile photos.

Dlectricity illuminates the streets of Detroit

Sept. 30, 2014, 12:30 p.m., Posted by Mary M. Chapman

Detroit Institute of Arts illuminated as part of Dlectricity. Photo by Jon Deboer via Flickr.

The epiphany came when Jonathan Lewald was enjoying a projected light installation at the nighttime arts festival Dlectricity.

“Detroit’s coming back, baby,” he turned and yelled to no one in particular, his face flecked with dancing reflections. “This is what we do!”

As Detroit seeks to regain its financial footing, its long-rich arts and cultural scene is emerging as a principal propeller of the city’s rejuvenation.

An evolving, essential role for libraries

Sept. 30, 2014, 11:09 a.m., Posted by Dan Cohen

Knight News Challenge: Libraries closes today, Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. The challenge offers applicants a chance to share in $2.5 million by focusing on the question “How might we leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities?” Below, Dan Cohen, founding executive director of the Digital Public Library of America, writes about the essential role libraries play in the democratization of information.

Libraries occupy a special place in our society. As the approval ratings for nearly all public institutions continue to plunge in the United States, libraries are treasured by a remarkable 90 percent, and they are used at all stages of life, from ages 3 to 93. People visit libraries for lifelong learning and entertainment, for Internet access and digital resources, for job searches and local meetings, and to research and contribute to the history of their communities. In many places in America and even more so around the world, libraries are the only available point of access to critical knowledge.

But as central as libraries are in our communities—in the U.S. there are 16,000 public libraries, more branches than Starbucks—there are worries about their continuing roles and future. Over the last decade so many of us have started reading on devices for which the convenience is great, but the lock-in, with specific software and digital rights management, is even greater. Libraries have found e-books hard to purchase, and although publishers have become more open to licensing e-books to public libraries in the past few years, they treat those e-books like physical books—restricting borrowing to one user at a time—and have engaged in pricing for libraries in ways that many have seen as unfair. The Web, not the library, has become the starting point for most research.