University of Texas at Arlington

UTA Libraries Awarded Grants Totaling More Than $100K

Female playing with virtual reality equipment.
UTA Libraries Awarded Grants Totaling More Than $100K

UTA Libraries received three awards funded by grants from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. These include an Impact Grant, a Special Projects grant, and the TexTreasures grant. 

“For years, the generous funding from IMLS and TSLAC has helped provide worldwide access to our unique digital content like the disability history collection,” said Rebecca Bichel, UTA Dean of Libraries. “This year, IMLS and TSLAC are also helping us deliver innovative services that will transform students’ experiences at UTA. By giving students access to leading-edge technologies, we are preparing them to thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.” 

Impact grants focus on business/workforce development, digital literacy, family and early childhood literacy, and electronic access to information. UTA Libraries received $10,000 to build a virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) station to help students prepare and participate in the growing VR/AR game development industry. 

“Virtual and augmented reality, along with online gaming, generated in excess of 100 billion dollars in revenue in 2017,” said Library Systems Department Head and principal investigator Bob Samson. “UT Arlington and the city of Arlington have made significant advancements in support of online gaming and eSports. This project will provide our students with access to technologies which will allow them to learn critical skills as they prepare to enter this fast-growing field.” 

Special Projects grants supports expanding library services to underserved groups in the library’s community. TSLAC awarded UTA Libraries $74,994 to partner with two elementary schools to implement universally accessible makerspaces and STEAM labs for elementary students with learning disabilities. Dr. Priscila Cacola from UTA Kinesiology will study students’ motor proficiency while they interact with technology. 

“This grant is tackling three issues at once: how can children with learning differences effectively participate in makerspaces; what kinds of physical accommodations might be needed for this audience; and where can pre-service and current teachers go to test makerspace technologies before purchasing them with limited school funds?” Said Bichel, who is principle investigator for this project. “The generous funding by IMLS and TSLAC will support data-driven discovery relating to how children with learning differences interact with makerspaces and how teachers and schools can best use their resources to promote innovation and creativity.” 

TexTreasures is an annual grant program designed to help libraries make their special collections more accessible for the people of Texas and beyond. UTA Libraries’ Special Collections was awarded $25,000 to digitize additional materials for the Texas Disability History Collection (TDHC) website, which was funded by a TexTreasures grant in SFY 2016. The site showcases Texas’s central role in the disability rights movement and reveals the impact of disability rights on ordinary people’s lives. 

“As a result of the UTA Libraries’ partnership with the Disability Studies Minor and Department of History,” said Brenda McClurkin, UTA Libraries’ Special Collections Department Head and principal investigator for this project, “there is tremendous momentum in moving the Texas Disability History Collection forward, covering exciting new ground in documenting the impact that Texans have had on both the local and national stages in disability rights advocacy.”