VAL Travel Scholarships

Note: As of spring 2020, this program has been suspended.

Call for Proposals

The Association of College and Research Libraries is offering approximately 6 travel scholarships of up to $2,000 each in fiscal year 2020 for librarians presenting on their work demonstrating the impact of academic libraries in the broader landscape of higher education. This program is one of several developed by ACRL’s Value of Academic Libraries (VAL) Committee to support librarians in their efforts to communicate to our partners in higher education including administrators, scholars, and teachers working in all disciplines. These travel scholarships support the community in taking up a recommendation from the ACRL report Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research (prepared by OCLC Research and released in September 2017 for download or purchase) that academic librarians effectively communicate their contributions both up to institutional stakeholders and out to other departments.

New in 2019-2020: Proposals can be about any of ACRL’s four strategic goal areas and objectives or the Core Commitment to creating diverse and inclusive communities, as articulated in the ACRL Plan for Excellence

ACRL invites applications from those seeking to present work on the impact of academic libraries at higher education conferences or disciplinary conferences where they will reach a wide audience (scholarships will not be awarded for travel to library conferences). The presentations may be based on practice-based work or formal research projects.

To have the greatest possible effect, the committee seeks strong applicants who bring a range of perspectives in terms of types of institutions, geographical regions, and nature of the work presented.

The conference must take place between September 1, 2019 and August 31, 2020. Reimbursable expenses include conference registration, lodging, travel (round-trip economy airfare, train ticket, or mileage), and meals (up to $50 per diem). The applicant should clearly outline estimated expenses in the budget.  


Each applicant must be a member of ACRL and employed as a librarian or information professional in an academic or research library in the year prior to application for the travel scholarship.

The applicant must have submitted a proposal to the conference where he/she wishes to present at the time of application. Granting of the scholarship is conditional upon the proposal being accepted by that conference. 

As stated above, the proposed conference must have a wide higher education or disciplinary audience. Scholarships will not be awarded for travel to library conferences (e.g. ALA Annual / Midwinter, Library Assessment Conference, etc.). For examples of conferences past recipients attended, see the announcements from past rounds of scholarships awarded in January 2018, October 2018, and April 2019


The purpose of the travel scholarships is to support communication about the significance of libraries to other stakeholders in higher education. The presentation may be based on past or current initiatives. A subcommittee of member leaders (chaired by the Value of Academic Libraries Committee and with representatives of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee; External Liaisons Committee; New Roles and Changing Landscapes Committee; Research and Scholarly Environment Committee; and Student Learning and Information Literacy Committee) will review proposals with the following criteria in mind:

  • How well does the proposed presentation align with the core commitment or strategic goals and objectives as stated in ACRL's strategic plan?
    • The proposal should explicitly state how it supports any of ACRL’s four strategic goal areas and objectives or the Core Commitment to creating diverse and inclusive communities, as articulated in the ACRL Plan for Excellence.
  • Does the topic align with current interests and trends in higher education and libraries?
    • The proposal should identify current trends – in scholarship and/or practice – and how the work being presented advances those trends.
  • Is the proposed presentation clear and intriguing? Does it investigate or provide new ways of thinking about the impact of academic libraries? Are the ideas well-conceived, developed, and articulated?
    • The proposal should clearly outline its purpose and outcomes, as well as appropriate methodology utilized. If the project/research on which this presentation is based has not yet been completed, a timeline for completion should be outlined.
  • Is the need for funding strongly articulated and demonstrated?
    • The budget should be clearly outlined, along with discussion of any alternative or additional sources of funding.
  • Is the reason for presenting this project at the stated conference compelling? Does it fit closely with stakeholder interests? Why is the presentation format chosen appropriate?
    • The proposal should consider the primary audience of the conference and how the presentation will engage them.

Application Instructions

The application should include:

  • A completed application form with your name, contact information, ACRL membership number and expiration date (Unsure? Call ALA customer service toll free at 800-545-2433 or direct line 312-944-6780), and basic details about the conference and proposed presentation. (Preview questions asked on application form in PDF file).
  • A single PDF (up to 16 MB) attached to the application form with:
    1. Conference abstract (maximum 2 pages)
      Include the abstract/proposal you submitted to the conference, which should clearly outline the purpose, methodology, and outcomes of the project on which this presentation is based.
    2. Scholarship proposal (maximum 2 pages)
      • Address how this presentation will contribute to any of ACRL’s four strategic goal areas and objectives or the Core Commitment to creating diverse and inclusive communities, as articulated in the ACRL Plan for Excellence. Clearly indicate the primary goal/objective or the core commitment with which your presentation aligns.
      • The proposal should clearly state why this specific conference is a good place to present based on supporting evidence such as the primary audience and what sort of institutional stakeholders they represent (e.g. administrators, faculty, educational researchers, etc.). Also address the presentation format and why it’s suitable for highlighting the value of academic libraries.
      • If you collaborated on this project with others, please briefly explain the role of the different members of the project team.
    3. Estimated budget (maximum 2 pages using the budget worksheet provided)
      • If you stated that you have other funds available from your institution or another source of support to travel to this conference, please explain briefly what this funding supports and why you are seeking an ACRL travel scholarship in addition to it.
      • Provide an itemized budget with a list of anticipated expenses totaling no more than $2000. Reimbursable expenses include conference registration, lodging, travel (round-trip economy airfare, train ticket, or mileage), and meals (up to $50 per diem).
    4. Your CV or résumé
    5. Statement of institutional support (maximum 1 page)
      This should be written by your supervisor, department head, library director, provost, etc. to indicate that they support travel to the conference as part of your professional development and, if applicable, will provide other funds to supplement this scholarship. It does not need to be on letterhead or signed, but should have the statement author’s name, job title, email address, and phone number.

Application Deadlines

The deadline to submit your completed Value of Academic Libraries Travel Scholarship Application for the current round of awards is 5 p.m. Central Time on Monday, September 16, 2019. Applicants will receive notice of the status of their travel scholarship applications by November 14, 2019. The conference travel must take place before August 31, 2020.

Depending on the number of applications received and grants awarded in fall 2019, ACRL may issue another CFP for VAL Travel Scholarships in early 2020.

Electronic submissions are required via the application form, as described above.


Award recipients must:

  1. Submit a claim for reimbursable expenses – not exceeding the proposed costs – by Aug. 31, 2020. Include the reimbursement request form and all required documentation specified therein.
  2. Acknowledge in their conference presentation that they received ACRL funding.
  3. Provide ACRL staff with a copy of their conference presentation and a brief textual description (abstract) which ACRL may disseminate online, for example as part of a blog post or other update to the community.


November 2019

  • Elizabeth Cheney (California State University-Northridge) for a presentation titled “Affordable Learning Solutions for Student Success at CSUN” at 2020 Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators.
  • Erin Durham (University of Maryland Baltimore County) for a presentation titled “Mission Not-Impossible – Open Educational Resources and Accessibility – Two Roadmaps for Strategic Collaboration to Support the Institutional Mission/Vision” at Online Learning Consortium: Accelerate.
  • Samantha Kennedy (Rowan University) for a workshop titled “Open Educational Resources Boot Camp: How to Leverage Interdisciplinary Connections to Create More Affordable, Inclusive Classroom Resources” at Conference on College Composition and Communication Annual Convention.
  • Pamela Mann (St. Mary’s College of Maryland) for a workshop titled “Community Based Spanish and Critical Information Literacy” at AACU: Global Citizenship for Campus, Community and Careers: Crossing Borders and Boundaries.

April 2019

  • Janet Clarke (Stony Brook University) and Raymond Pun (Alder Graduate School of Education) for a presentation titled “The Impact of APA Librarians on Student Success, Faculty Productivity, and Building Community” at Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education National Conference.
  • Heather Howard (Purdue University) for a presentation titled “Student Information Use and Decision-Making in Innovation Competitions” at the European Academy of Management Annual Conference.
  • Jennifer Wilhelm (Texas A&M University) for a presentation titled “Invest in Your Library: Why Your Institution’s Librarians Are a Valuable Asset in a Collaboration Portfolio” at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Student Financial Wellness Conference.

October 2018

  • Rebecca A. Croxton (University of North Carolina at Charlotte) for a presentation titled “From Matriculation to Graduation: A University-Wide Assessment of Student Engagement and Success” at the IUPUI Assessment Institute.
  • Heidi Schroeder (Michigan State University) for a presentation titled “Leveraging Library Consortia to Improve Vendor E-Resource Accessibility in the Big Ten Academic Alliance” at the Accessing Higher Ground conference of the Association on Higher Education and Disability.
  • Megan E. Welsh (University of Colorado Boulder) for a presentation titled “Whose House? Our House!: Academic Libraries as Sites for Transfer Student Engagement” at the American Educational Research Association conference.

January 2018

  • Sara Arnold-Garza (Towson University) for a presentation titled “Research as Inquiry, or, How to Win Librarian Friends and Influence Students” at the American Political Science Association Teaching & Learning Conference.
  • Elisandro Cabada (University of Minnesota) for a poster presentation titled “A Survey of Information Professionals on the Preparedness of STEM Graduates Entering the Workforce” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  • Britt Foster and Dave Tyckoson (California State University, Fresno) for a presentation titled “Taking a Deeper Dive: Using Capstone Papers for Richer Information Literacy Assessment” at the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission Academic Resource Conference.
  • Kathleen Kasten (Stony Brook University) for a roundtable presentation titled “The Intellectual Landscape in the Library: Speaker Events as a Tool for Academic Engagement” at the Northeast Modern Language Association Conference.
  • Sarivette Ortiz-Sanchez (Ana G. Mendez University) for a presentation titled “The Role of Academic Libraries in Support of Cultural Diversity and Inclusion in Education” at the International Congress of the Latin American Studies Association.
  • Michelle Reed (University of Texas at Arlington) for a presentation titled “Beyond Open Connections: Leveraging Information Literacy to Increase Impact of Open Education” at the Open Education Global Conference.

Further Information

See the application frequently asked questions for more details about applying.

If your questions are not answered on the website, please contact or the current chair of ACRL's Value of Academic Libraries Committee.