Atlanta, GA – July 18, 2019 – LYRASIS, one of the largest services and technologies non-profit member organizations serving the global landscape of academic and public libraries, scholarly research, archives, museums, and galleries, is pleased to announce the 2019 recipients of the LYRASIS Catalyst Fund. The Catalyst Fund is designed to foster innovation leading to new services and programs among members and knowledge communities worldwide. This year, five programs will be seed funded for the benefit of the community at large. Four projects were chosen by participants in the LYRASIS Leaders Circle and one was chosen by LYRASIS’s CEO. A total of $126,370 will be awarded.

Capital for the Catalyst Fund comes from the $1.2 million member focused research, development and innovation budget that was approved by the LYRASIS Board of Trustees following the completion of the merger of DuraSpace into LYRASIS. Through the Catalyst Fund, now in its third year, LYRASIS has directly invested more than $500,000 into its members to support and promote scalable innovation across academic and public libraries, museums and galleries, archives, and scholarly research.

The following is the list of the 2019 Catalyst Fund recipients.

  • Columbus Metropolitan Library, “My Upload: Engaging Library Users in Digital Collections”. My Upload aims to make it easy for library users to contribute to digital collections through an online, open-source upload tool that corresponds to a metadata template for simple ingestion in to any digital collection database. CML will document the process in a white paper and release the software under an open-source license and publish it on GitHub. $25,200.
  • King County Library System (WA), “Conversational Artificial Intelligence: Bringing the Library to Your Living Room”. This project will explore community demand for and research the feasibility of implementing a library application to interface with common conversational artificial intelligence systems (e.g., Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc.), with the goal of empowering the public to benefit from library resources anytime, anywhere. $34,600.
  • Florida International University, “AI for Archives: Using Facial Recognition to Enhance Metadata”. The goal of this research project is to determine the most effective facial recognition application for use with digitized archive images from cultural heritage institutions and provide opportunities for future development. FIU computer scientists and librarians will conduct qualitative assessments of facial recognition application models. This project addresses the issue of incomplete metadata within digital repositories and decreases the time involved in locating and matching images of people. $25,000.
  • Atlanta University Center, Robert W. Woodruff Library, “Using Linked Open Data for Georgia’s Natural, Cultural and Historic Organizations’ Disaster Response”. This project will create a publicly editable directory of Georgia’s Natural, Cultural and Historical Organizations (NCHs), allowing for quick retrieval of location and contact information for disaster response. Directory information will be uploaded to Wikidata, the linked open data database from the Wikimedia Foundation. Directory information will be delivered via a website, allowing emergency responders to quickly search for NCHs in disaster areas. $16,190.
  • University of Michigan, “Open Data Toolkit Based on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access Principles”. The University of Michigan (U-M) Library and the National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID) will develop a toolkit for diversity scholars to provide guidance on best practices in the research data lifecycle–collecting, managing, utilizing, sharing and curating research data for the public good. We will incorporate Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access (DEI and A) principles, including responsibilities to communities being studied, and draw on the emerging field of critical data studies. $25,380.

Robert Miller, CEO of LYRASIS, says of this year’s Catalyst Fund recipients: “This grant program has surfaced broad based opportunities that will impact large and small institutions and increasingly has the potential to be generalizable across other communities as well. The seed funded ideas allow for low risk development and testing. The broader community benefits and is a part of establishing governance, standards, and fair pricing. The secret sauce here is engagement with the LYRASIS’ Leaders Circle, which provides first phase vetting. All members are welcome to become part of this process.”

The LYRASIS Catalyst Fund is part of the three-pronged thought leadership and innovation initiative started by LYRASIS in 2015. The Leaders CircleLeaders Forums and Catalyst Fund work together to identify, evaluate, test and implement the best programs and services for the benefit of all LYRASIS members. The Leaders Circle which is comprised of 241 institutions, brings together a diverse group of knowledgeable professionals to discuss, concept and vote on real-world solutions to challenges within the community. The Leaders Forums are focused, regional in-person meetings where thought leaders and practitioners identify the shared needs, challenges and opportunities faced by libraries, archives and museums. Since 2016, LYRASIS has held 29 Leaders Forums in cities across the United States meeting with over 400 leaders representing 300+ organizations. The Catalyst Fund, has funded 18 projects selected from 132 proposals.

All LYRASIS members are encouraged to attend the annual Member Summit on October 3-4 in Chicago, IL. This fast paced summit will cover new ideas, results and milestones from ongoing programs, updates and lessons learned from the 10 community supported programs that have a home at LYRASIS. Portions of the Summit will be available online for those not able to attend in person.