On September 18, the LACUNY Professional Development Committee held its 8th PSC-CUNY Grants workshop in the conference room at Baruch College’s Newman Library. Four librarians representing a wide range of experiences with the PSC-CUNY Research Award program spoke to a group of around 20 LACUNY members. Kathleen Collins from John Jay College, Carol Gee from Lehman College, and Kate Lyons from Hostos Community College all spoke about their experiences as research award winners. Janet Munch of Lehman College, who is currently serving a 3-year term as chair of the Library Panel of UCRA, University Committee on Research Awards, spoke about what award panels look for in proposals.
Kathleen Collins, reference librarian at John Jay College, applied for an out-of-cycle grant to travel for research and to obtain rights to reproduce photographs for a book project already underway. She found that the application itself was easy, but the decision about which panel was the best fit for her project was a difficult one. After consulting members of UCRA, she followed their recommendation to apply to the Performing Arts Scholarship panel. She praised her campus grants office personnel and remarked on their helpfulness with determining a project budget.
Carol Gee, technical services librarian at Lehman College, spoke about her experience as a two-time research award grantee. Her research involves studying the genealogy of her extended family in China. Since her research involved human subjects, she obtained Institutional Review Board (IRB) certification, which she achieved by completion of CITI training. She recommended that applicants who need to get IRB certification not attempt to take the challenging CITI course in one day. She also found the panel reviewers’ comments about how to turn the project into a book proposal quite useful. After the awards have been announced, grantees can read comments from the panel reviewers on the RFCUNY website.
Kate Lyons, reference and IT librarian at Hostos Community College, described the process of writing the grant application as “the most fun ever had at work.” Her interest in web 2.0 applications in libraries led her to investigate how video games are cataloged with LCSH, and how a collaborative thesaurus might improve She and her co-PI, Lisa Tappeiner of Hostos, were already working together on studying subject headings of video games when they decided to seek funding for travel to libraries that have adopted innovative approaches to cataloging this emerging medium.
Janet Munch, special collections librarian at Lehman College, explained that each panel is given an amount to divide among awards based on the number of applications received by that panel. She shared a great deal of helpful information about preparing the grant application, such as priority ranking of budget items and factoring in cost increases for travel and supplies, since there is a lag of several months between application submission and award. She encouraged grant applicants to get constructive criticism on their grant narratives from friends or colleagues before submitting their applications. She also recommended that potential applicants read about projects funded in previous years. Lists of funded projects and sample applications are available at http://rfcuny.org. Titles and abstracts of PSC-CUNY grants awarded to librarians are available on the LACUNY Professional Development Committee’s website.
PSC-CUNY research awards are made every year. The deadline for proposals in the regular awards cycle is mid-October; new faculty may submit applications under the out-of-cycle awards deadline in early December. Applicants submit an online application to fund travel, equipment, supplies and other costs incurred by specific project; the awards are not intended to support conference travel. All permanent members of the full-time instructional staff are eligible, with preference going to junior faculty. More information about the CUNY Research Foundation and the PSC-CUNY Award Program can be found at here.
The LACUNY Professional Development Committee has held 8 PSC-CUNY Grants workshops since 2001 and has documented PSC-CUNY research awards to librarians since that time. The first year that the PDC documented librarians’ research award success, one award was made to a librarian. Since 2003, an average of 12 per year have been awarded to CUNY librarians.
Anne Leonard (New York City College of Technology) and Sara Marcus (Queensborough Community College)