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ScanGrants and Librarians

We thought you would enjoy reading about an innovative project undertaken by Network member Hope Leman and her colleagues at Samaritan Health Services in Corvallis, Oregon. ScanGrants is truly an impressive resource. Congratulations, Hope, on a job well done!

Hope Leman writes:

Ever tried to help patrons looking for grants? Ever looked for one yourself for your medical library? Looking for ways to expand the range of services your library can offer to your institution and to the greater medical community?

We would like to draw the attention of medical librarians in our region and elsewhere to a web resource we have developed here at Samaritan Health Services (SHS) in Oregon in a collaboration between Murray Memorial Library and the SHS Center for Health Research and Quality. It is:

http://www.scangrants.com/

and we are fairly confident that there is no comparable free listing of healthcare-related grant and scholarship listings on the Internet. We are hoping it will prove a boon to medical researchers and anyone attempting to find funding for projects related to public health, disease prevention and to students trying to find scholarships for health science education.

We have employed the latest and greatest Web 2.0 technologies. ScanGrants is fully subscribeable via email alerts or RSS. You can subscribe by category (we create those as we come across a grant that seems to fall under such and such a rubric, so the categories are many and a little quirky as we grow) or to the main feed, which we update several times a week.

Why did we create ScanGrants? Out of frustration and necessity. Ever try to find a grant? It is hard. I subscribed to one service that told me only who had just received a grant. Not very helpful-I wanted to know what was still open for applications.

Unless you are affiliated with a fairly large institution and can access commercial databases of available funding like Community of Science, you have to do most of the hunting for funding as best you can. The dearth of knowledge about grants and scholarships for researchers and health science students dismayed and distressed us and we wanted to get the word out about whatever funding opportunities we could. We also try to list every funding opportunity we come across that medical librarians could conceivably be eligible for. What is on ScanGrants is freely available elsewhere on the Internet-we just centralize and render the results of vigilant, diligent web surfing subscribeable so as to expedite grant seeking so scientists can spend more in time in the lab and less in Google.

The creation of ScanGrants has led us to understand how knowledgeable and generous librarians are. We wrote to many librarians in various settings (public, academic and medical) asking for their advice and suggestions and both were freely, tactfully and helpfully given. Now, we are asking for help in spreading the word about ScanGrants to the medical library community, clinicians, libraries of all kinds, and grants and research offices everywhere.

For instance, it has been very gratifying to see ScanGrants appearing on the lists of funding resources at such institutions as Washington University and LSU Health Sciences Center, New Orleans.

It was fun to see ScanGrants pop up as a result in Google when I was looking for grants to put into ScanGrants. Little steps so far, but we have high hopes. We want ScanGrants to become a brand name for grant seekers- a “find funding fast” sort of thing.

When you create a web service, you learn about marketing. For instance, a mention on David Rothman’s blog is something to die for as you learn by noting in Google Analytics the bump-up in the number of visits in the days following David’s comments. You learn all about bounce rates and can grow pretty obsessed with usage stats in general!

This was the perfect kind of project for a librarian eager to advance medical research, to help clinicians and young people, to learn how to work with a web designer and how to market a new web service.

Increasingly, librarians are having to learn about grants and outside funding. I am a half-time grants coordinator now myself-all because of the love of libraries, which happen to be rather expensive things to operate. I highly recommend that every librarian try to get at least one grant. Grant-funded projects offer librarians the chance to shine, to interact with non-librarian institutional players and to get tech savvy.

Someday, we hope to hear from a librarian who found a grant on ScanGrants that helped a scientist make a breakthrough that lead to therapies for a devastating illness. That would be a triumph to treasure. So, hurry up and subscribe, colleagues, and stick us on your home pages!

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