Kent State’s Karen MacDonald Selected to Receive Knight Prototype Fund Award

Kent State University Libraries has announced that Karen MacDonald, assistant professor, business and entrepreneurship outreach librarian, has been selected by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a Knight News Challenge on Libraries prototype winner.

MacDonald’s research project titled “Information for Innovation” explores ways to provide information services to local entrepreneurs and business counselors to see what services they might need to reach their goals. MacDonald will receive $35,000 through the Knight Prototype Fund, which helps innovators take media and information projects from idea to demo. She will have six months to research, test core assumptions and iterate before building out an entire project.

“The grant will allow me to conduct focus groups and interviews with nascent and early-state entrepreneurs, as well as the counselors in various programs such as COSE, JumpStart, Small Business Development Center and the Akron Global Business Accelerator that support these new companies,” MacDonald said. “I will be examining the information needs of local entrepreneurs and exploring ways to provide this information most effectively. It’s my hope that this research will result in clear outreach and instruction models for helping entrepreneurs meet their goals.”

Launching a new business, of course, requires strategic planning.

“Strategic planning requires access to information that describes how a start-up business would interact with the external environment: industry profiles and trends, trade news, competitor information, market research reports, consumer lifestyle reports, local and regional demographic data,” MacDonald said. “This type of information is not readily available on the web. It is proprietary and generally quite expensive. An academic research library, especially a library that supports a business school, offers a variety of specialized business information resources and the expertise to use them.”

MacDonald is quite proud that Kent State University Libraries has aligned itself with the strategic goals of the university, which include fostering economic development of Northeast Ohio. 

“The libraries are committed to meeting the information needs of entrepreneurs and small business owners in this region, and the Knight Prototype Fund grant and the ‘Information for Innovation’ research project will help to achieve that goal,” she said. 

Kent State University Libraries is an active member of the Kent Area, Stow-Munroe Falls, Streetsboro Area and Twinsburg chambers of commerce, illustrating its commitment to strengthening relationships with the business community.

For more information about Kent State University Libraries, visit

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Media Contacts:
Karen MacDonald,, 330-672-1683
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Thursday, April 2, 2015 03:28 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 2, 2015 03:28 PM
Karen Hillman