May 17, 2022

Rice University’s Fondren Library Receives $2 Million Endowment to Fund Experiential Research

From Rice University in Houston:

2018-11-05_13-21-15A piece of the legendary Maltsberger family now lives on at Rice University’s Fondren Library, which has received a $2 million endowment from the estate of John “Terry” Maltsberger III. The gift is being used to fund the expansion of the library’s innovative Fondren Fellows program, a student experiential research program that has generated significant results since its creation in 2016.


Since the program was established in 2016, Fondren Fellows have made important contributions to the library while simultaneously developing their skills and professional prospects. These students have worked on a range of projects, from conducting research on how Fondren can improve its data services to creating a digital map of Civil War letters and journals held by the Woodson Research Center.


One student even helped save the library $50,000 – no small feat.

“The Fellow worked with her mentor on getting in touch with engineering faculty to seek their input into what journals could be canceled — the library doesn’t want to just cancel willy-nilly without consulting faculty,” said Fondren Executive Director of Digital Scholarship Services Lisa Spiro, who pioneered the Fellows program with colleagues and worked with Lowman on the proposal to secure funding.

Based on the input collected, the library was able to cancel subscriptions that were no longer of use while reinvesting the saved money to pick up new journals in emerging fields.

“Students can see problem and solutions that librarians don’t necessarily see and lend their own expertise to these projects,” Spiro said.

One project that typified this approach, she said, began with two different points of view on how best to solicit feedback on how faculty regard publisher agreements. The legalese contained within some of the agreements can require professors to sign away such basic rights to their own work, they technically can’t even share their own articles with a class of students.

Fondren will also offer seed funding to projects to cover costs such as equipment and training as well as an investment fund to scale up selected projects. And while the program has primarily focused on research projects, it will now offer opportunities for students to help develop and teach short courses. Money will even be set aside to sponsor one group project a  year that will be overseen by a trained graduate student, and travel funds for students to present their work at conferences outside of Houston.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.