Partnerships, projects, and grants

The Libraries are engaged across campus, around the state, and throughout the world on a number of programs and grant-funded projects.


AgEcon Search

AgEcon Search is a free, open access repository of full-text scholarly literature in agricultural and applied economics, including working papers, conference papers, and journal articles. Founded in 1995, it includes works from over 250 institutions worldwide.

Project partners include

  • U of M Department of Applied Economics,
  • Agricultural and Applied Economics Association,
  • Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society,
  • European Association of Agricultural Economists,
  • Farm Foundation,
  • Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics,
  • International Association of Agricultural Economists, and
  • USDA Economic Research Service.

Big Ten Academic Alliance Geospatial Data Project

Led by the University of Minnesota since 2015, the BTAA Geospatial Data Project collaborates with peer institutions to provide discoverability, facilitate access, and connect scholars across the Big Ten Academic Alliance to geospatial data resources. The project supports the creation and aggregation of discovery-focused metadata describing geospatial data resources from participating institutions and makes those resources discoverable via the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geoportal. The project also provides the technology project staffing and infrastructure to host the services.

Project partners include

  • University of Minnesota (lead),
  • University of Illinois at Urbana­-Champaign,
  • Indiana University Bloomington,
  • University of Iowa,
  • University of Maryland,
  • University of Michigan,
  • Michigan State University,
  • Pennsylvania State University,
  • Purdue University,
  • University of Wisconsin-­Madison,
  • Ohio State University, and 
  • University of Chicago.

Consortium for the Study of the PreModern World

The James Ford Bell Library is partnering with the U of M College of Liberal Arts and the Centers for Medieval Studies and Early Modern History to re-imagine graduate education in this area of scholarly research across disciplines and departments.

This project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Data Curation Network

The Data Curation Network (DCN) is a shared expertise network that provides expert data curation services for Network partners and end users; creates and openly shares data curation procedures and best practices; supports training and development opportunities for an emerging data curator professional community; and expands into a sustainable entity that grows beyond our initial partner institutions.

Led by the University of Minnesota, the DCN is a network, currently involving 12 institutional partners and has been generously supported through grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Current partners include

  • Cornell University,
  • Dryad Digital Repository,
  • Duke University,
  • Johns Hopkins University,
  • New York University,
  • Penn State University,
  • University of Illinois,
  • University of California Santa Barbara,
  • University of Michigan,
  • University of Minnesota (lead),
  • Virginia Tech, and
  • Washington University in St. Louis.

Google Books Library Partnership

Google works with many libraries from around the world to include their collections in Google Books. The libraries receive a digital copy of every book scanned from their collections to preserve and make available to their patrons where copyright law allows.

Through the Big Ten Academic Alliance, and since 2010, the University of Minnesota Libraries has partnered with Google to digitize hundreds of thousands of volumes from its print collection to be fully searchable and, where allowed by copyright, viewable through Google Books and the HathiTrust.


The HathiTrust Digital Library is approximately 17.5 million digitized volumes available for full-text search, with ~39% of the total in the public domain and fully viewable.

The University of Minnesota is a charter member of this partnership, which began in 2008 and has grown to around 200 institutions collectively focused on preserving and providing access to digitized book and journal content from partner library collections. This includes both in copyright and public domain materials digitized by Google, the Internet Archive, and Microsoft, as well as through in-house initiatives.

The partners aim to build a comprehensive archive of published literature from around the world and to develop shared strategies for managing and developing their digital and print holdings in a collaborative way.

The project partners are an international community of research libraries and cultural heritage institutions committed to the long-term curation and availability of the cultural record (see current partner listing).

Minnesota Digital Library

The Minnesota Digital Library (MDL) supports discovery and education through access to unique historical materials shared by over 200 cultural heritage organizations from across the state of Minnesota. Our contributing partners include libraries, archives, historical societies, and museums. Since our founding in 2003, we have digitized more than 58,000 items such as photographs, postcards, maps, documents, letters, and oral histories. 

MDL is funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund of the Minnesota Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution via the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS). Minitex provides additional funding and support. Further in-kind services are contributed by MDL’s collaborative partners, including the University of Minnesota.


U-Spatial is a nationally recognized model that serves and drives a fast-growing need for expertise in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and spatial computing across the University. U-Spatial has supported over 2,000 researchers across 150 departments and centers at the University.

Through providing a spatial research support framework consisting of data, equipment, and expertise, U-Spatial strives to eliminate duplication and fragmentation of scientific resources. The Libraries partners with U-Spatial.

U-Spatial is funded by the U of M Office of the Vice President for Research, through its Research Computing center.

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Projects and grants

The Strategic Digitization Program

The Strategic Digitization Review Group, in cooperation with Digital Library Services (DLS), solicits proposals from all Libraries units for projects to digitize analog materials in all formats for the Strategic Digitization Program. The purpose of the projects may be to enable or increase access to content, to preserve the content of rare, fragile, or at-risk collections, or both reasons.

Digital Preservation Program

Digital preservation encompasses a broad range of activities designed to extend the usable life of machine-readable computer files and protect them from media failure, physical loss, and obsolescence.

Our mission is to provide contemporary and enduring access to digital objects under the collection stewardship of the University Libraries, through the application of professional digital preservation methodologies, standards, and technologies.

Mapping Racial Covenants in the United States: a technical toolkit

This grant funds the Mapping Prejudice Project to refine the suite of digital tools that it developed for mapping racial covenants and to expand and redesign its website. The team needs to adapt its Python scripts, crowd-sourcing workflows, and GIS methods so they can be used with any set of digitized property records.

The grant is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Digital Humanities Advancement Grant.

Advancing Systematic Review Practices Beyond Health Sciences

This project supports the recruitment and training of up to 120 librarians to support systematic review and other evidence synthesis processes and practices in disciplines outside the health sciences.

A systematic review is a research method in which a team formulates a research question and applies a systematic and transparent method to search, select, and appraise existing literature in order for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to make evidence-based decisions.

This grant is funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), Laura Bush 21st Century.

Evidence Synthesis Institute

Optimizing Crowdsourced Transcription using Handwritten Text Recognition

The project will train a machine-learning model of handwritten text recognition using transcriptions previously done through crowdsourcing, testing it on similar collections, and evaluating best practices for combining human and machine effort in producing high-quality transcription data.

The project is funded by the American Council of Learned Societies, Digital Extension Grant.

Public Health in Minnesota: Digitizing “A Public Health Journal” TV program

The Minnesota Public Health Association and Social Welfare History Archives (SWHA) are expanding our partnership to make the history of public health in Minnesota accessible to a broader audience of community members, scholars, students, and public health professionals by digitizing strategic selections from the Association’s records in the SWHA.

The project is funded by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage (Legacy) Fund.

History of Transgender Activist Communities Podcast Project

This public engagement project will investigate the history of transgender activist communities in Virginia and the United States.

A podcast, entitled Transcripts, uses interviews from the Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies’ Transgender Oral History Project to introduce a broad audience to stories of transgender activism and their strategies to build a more just, more livable, and more fabulous world.

The project is funded by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Minnesota’s Landscapes: Documenting Environmental History through Archival Sources

A project to process approximately 30 archival collections documenting Minnesota's natural resources, watersheds, flora and fauna, agricultural and land use, urban environments, conservation efforts, and climate change.

The project is funded by the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage (Legacy) Fund.

Catalog for "The ABC of It: Why Children's Books Matter"

Funding from the J.M. Kaplan Fund/Furthermore enabled initial printing of 1,200 catalogs.

Mapping Prejudice Project

The project provides access to data sets, digital mapping and raw data from the Mapping Prejudice project; assists City to identify entities with the goal of establishing an ad-hoc working group consisting of academic, governmental and private sector representatives; makes presentations to audiences including the City and its stakeholders, at conferences and to professional network and development organizations; and trains governmental entities about the history of policies that have resulted in racially-biased intent or outcomes.

The project is funded by the city of Minneapolis.

Shared Big Data Gateway Project

The project will develop, seed, and maintain a cloud-based, extensible cyberinfrastructure for sharing large academic library data resources with a growing community of scholars; and will create a sustainable and shared resource for current and future big data mining and analysis.

The project is funded by the Institute for Museum and Library Services/Indiana University

Data Management Ed for Health Science Librarians

Health Science Libraries librarians will train graduate students and faculty at the University of Minnesota Duluth in data curation, data management, federal funding compliance, and research reproducibility.

The project advances the mission of the NIH and the NNLM GMR by broadening data management competencies across the region.

It is funded by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Greater Midwest Region.

Linked Data for Production (LD4P): Pathway to Implementation (LD4P Phase 2)

The project will develop a workflow for the cataloging of artists' books and fine press books, using the Art & Rare Materials BIBFRAME Ontology Extension developed by the LD4P Phase 1.

The project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/Stanford University.

Launching the Data Curation Network: A cross-institutional staffing model for curating research data

Launching the Data Curation Network (DCN) will enable institutions of all sizes to better and more efficiently support researchers that are faced with a growing number of requirements to ethically share their research data.

The DCN supplements local curation expertise with the expertise of a resilient, distributed network and create a funding stream to both sustain central services and support expansion of distributed expertise over time.

The project is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Saving Scrapbooks in the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives

This project aims to identify, create descriptive metadata, digitize, and preserve scrapbooks from the collections of the Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.

The project is funded by the Oren & Sharron Steinfeldt Family Foundation.

The African American Theater History Project: Community Engagement and Dissemination

This project follows on the IMLS-funded project to develop the shareable online search tool, UmbraSearch. Funding will support focused outreach and promotional efforts to the core audience—theater professionals, K-12 educators, students, scholars, librarians and curators—and development of educational and curricular applications.

The project is funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

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