Supporting the research mission of Auburn University has always been a high priority for the AU Libraries, but that support has taken new forms in the past two years.
Since late 2017, the Auburn University Libraries have been providing high-level information technology (IT) support and subject-matter expertise to the externally funded Military REACH Project, which is based in the College of Human Sciences (CHS). Originally based at the University of Minnesota, the Military REACH Project moved to Auburn in late 2017 as the result of a successful proposal in response to a competitive funding solicitation from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Defense (DoD).
The mission of the Military REACH Project is to support U.S. military families and family readiness by translating academic research and other resources into practical applications. This means making research both accessible and usable by DoD family support specialists and military families themselves. A key component of the project is the design and development of a publicly accessible, easy-to-navigate library of research publications and other resources on military life and family health, delivered through an attractive, user-friendly Web site. This is where the Libraries’ extensive experience in designing and building information technology infrastructure, bibliographic databases, information management and delivery systems, and user-focused Web sites came into play.
At the invitation of the project’s principal investigator, Dr. Mallory Lucier-Greer of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in CHS, the Libraries contributed their knowledge and expertise to the successful funding proposal that brought the Military REACH Project from Minnesota to Auburn. From the beginning of the project, the Libraries’ Military REACH support team—Denise Baker, Adam Chalkley, Midge Coates, Michael Stone, and Adam Wendling in the AUL Systems Department, and Nancy Noe in the AUL Research and Instruction Services Department—have worked with their counterparts in CHS and the project leadership to build the robust IT and bibliographic infrastructure on which the project rests. Among other things, this has included setting up and configuring the Military REACH server computers in the OIT Data Center; creating the infrastructure for the Military REACH publications library in an open-source content management software system; assisting in the development and hosting of the Military REACH Web site; providing expert guidance on metadata standards, accessibility, usage statistics, and social media; training IT support staff in CHS on the tools being used in Military REACH; and helping the Military REACH team transition gradually to a new IT support structure.
Thanks in large part to the Libraries’ contributions, the Military REACH Project was able to meet its ambitious goal of launching a fully-functioning, publicly-accessible website and library of research publications in its first year of funding. The project was recently renewed for a second year of funding under Dr. Lucier-Greer’s leadership. The Military REACH Project is just one example of how the Libraries are supporting externally funded research, helping to put Auburn on the map as a major research university that is doing work of critical national importance.
Military REACH: Research and Outreach: https://www.militaryreach.auburn.edu/.