Kevin Cherry is Senior Program Officer at the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the chief source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. IMLS works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.
At IMLS, Kevin helps coordinate the 21st Century Librarian Program, which supports projects to develop faculty and library leaders, to recruit and educate the next generation of librarians, archivists, and data curators, and to conduct research on the information professions and support early career research by tenure-track, untenured faculty in graduate schools of library and information science. This grant program also supports projects to attract college students to consider careers in libraries and archives, build institutional capacity in graduate schools of library and information science, and assist in the professional development of archivists and librarians. The 21st Century Librarian Program has also provided funds to support the National Book Festival (in partnership with the Library of Congress), The Big Read (in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts), Picturing America (in partnership with the National Endowment for the Humanities), Connecting to Collections (in partnership with the American Association for State and Local History and Heritage Preservation), among other special projects. Located in IMLS' Discretionary Programs Division, Office of Library Services, The 21st Century Librarian Program is IMLS' largest competitive grant program (by amount of funds).
Kevin promotes grant opportunities at professional conferences, coordinates the application and review process, and monitors the progress of funded grants. He also has served as the program officer for the library grants awarded by the American Heritage Preservation Grant Program (in coordination with the Bank of America Foundation) and helps organize IMLS' annual WebWise Conference on libraries and museums in the digital age. Most recently, he has served on the Digital Literacy Working Group, an federal interagency body established to advise the Obama Administration on actions it might consider to promote broadband as a platform to improve the lives of everyday Americans.
"Upon graduating from with my MSLS, I took a grant position with the Southern Historical Collection in UNC at Chapel Hill's Wilson Library," said Kevin. "I had been a longterm student assistant in various UNC at CH libraries, first as an undergraduate, then history grad student, and later as a student in SILS. I moved from the Southern to become a local history librarian at Rowan Public Library in Salisbury, NC and when Dr. Helen Tibbo received a grant to explore digitization of special collection material, she was nice enough to remember me, a former student. I supplied the materials and context for the handful of items we decided to digitize and she and her students helped with the technical aspects of the project. The result was the first public library digitization project in the state--and one of the first in the nation. We were so proud of the fact that we managed to get some sound digitized. (It was a snippet from an oral history with Salisbury's first African American mayor.) Because of this project, I became interested in the intersection of digital technologies and special collection materials. This interest led to a position at the State Library of North Carolina where I became the project manager of North Carolina ECHO (Exploring Cultural Heritage Online). The project was quite successful, but we had a difficult time making the digitized materials useful to the classroom. I later addressed this difficulty in my dissertation. While working on the NC ECHO project, I also worked with other State Library of North Carolina grant programs. My experience with managing grants at the state level eventually led to my position at the Institute of Museum and Library Services."