A half-a-million-dollar grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will put Kent State University at the forefront of bridging the big data access gap between large and small businesses.

The three-year, $458,319 grant, part of IMLS’s National Leadership Grant for Libraries, will fund Kent State’s Knowledge Extension (KNEXT) Project, which is reigniting libraries’ role as knowledge institutions in today’s highly technical and data-driven world.

Currently, small businesses and entrepreneurs struggle to compete with their large, well-funded counterparts, in part because they do not have access to data needed to make smart business decisions, said Emad Khazraee, assistant professor in the School of Information, who will serve as principal investigator of the grant. Libraries can help level the playing field by providing access to advanced data analytics and business intelligence.

“It’s kind of revitalizing the role of libraries as community anchors,” he said.

Through the grant, Khazraee and co-principal investigator, Susan Winter of the University of Maryland, will work with libraries and small business development centers in Northeast Ohio and Prince George’s County, Maryland, to build a model that can be replicated nationally.

“The network is in place so that if we can figure out how to do it correctly in Ohio, we can do it nationally,” Khazraee said.

During the first year of the grant, which begins October 2017, the KNEXT team will focus on needs assessment.

“What are the most pressing questions (small businesses) have that data analytics can answer?” Khazraee said. “Through that, we’ll build a centralized hub in … public libraries for free open data that can serve those questions.”

The KNEXT team will take what business owners say would be helpful, build scenarios, and then train librarians to run queries. For example, Khazraee said, a small business owner who produces kitchen cabinets could use his or her local library as a resource to mine social media data for insights into current trends in remodeling, or the library could provide data about what kinds of material distributors have sold the most of over a period of time.

Community advocates will also benefit from this project, Khazraee said.

“Imagine that you’re living in a town, and there’s going to be a development project,” he said. “How can you assess the impact of the project on the well-being of your community: how much traffic it will bring, how much it will affect other social aspects of your community? It’s not easy for advocacy groups or community groups to do advanced data analytics to get a good understanding of the impact of such a project.”

Amy Reynolds, dean of Kent State’s College of Communication and Information, said this project is a great example of how academic research can make a direct and significant contribution to society.

“We are so fortunate to have Emad’s expertise on our faculty,” she said. “His work with machine learning and data and web mining is not only critically important for our students, but also for advancing knowledge in the information science field. This IMLS-funded project serves the wider community, and our College really values this kind of engagement.”

About IMLS

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook,  Twitter and Instagram.


August 30th, 2017

Dr. Khazrazee Received An IMLS National Leadership Grant

A half-a-million-dollar grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) will put Kent State University at the forefront […]

July 18th, 2017

Dr. Khazraee Presented at IAMCR 2017

Dr. Khazraee remotely presented the paper, Turkey’s Internet Policy: The Emergence of a Distributed Network of Online Suppression and Surveillance, […]

April 14th, 2017

Dr. Khazraee Leads Session at Annenberg’s 2017 Research Methods Workshop

Annenberg School for Communication’s Internet Policy Observatory recently collaborated up with the Centre for Internet and Society, the Centre for Communication Governance […]

April 12th, 2017

Paper Accepted for the 2017 Meeting of the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S)

Dr. Khazraee’s paper, Assembling Narratives: Tensions in collaborative construction of epistemic narratives, has been accepted for the 2017 Meeting of […]

March 28th, 2017

Paper Accepted to be Presented at IAMCR 2017

The co-authored paper “Turkey’s Internet Policy: The Emergence of a Distributed Network of Online Suppression and Surveillance” has been accepted […]

March 17th, 2017

Dr. Khazraee Speaks to NPR Affiliate

Dr. Emad Khazraee was recently featured on a podcast called Elevations that airs on WKSU, NPR’s local affiliate in Kent, […]

February 28th, 2017

Report published on Turkey’s Internet Policy after the Coup Attempt

The Internet Policy Observatory (IPO) published a report titled “Turkey’s Internet Policy after the Coup Attempt: The Emergence of a […]

February 21st, 2017

Dr. Khazraee to Attend the CSST Summer Leadership Retreat

Dr. Khazraee is invited to attend the CSST Summer Leadership retreat, which will take place in Charleston, South Carolina July […]

February 17th, 2017

Dr. Khazraee Featured on Harvard’s NiemanLab Report

The NiemanLab’s Joseph Lichterman recently consulted Dr. Khazraee for an article titled “How BBC Persian is using Instagram and Telegram to […]

February 15th, 2017

Work with the National Archives of Afghanistan Featured by the Higher Chronicle of Education

Dr. Khazraee’s efforts to digitize the manuscripts of the National Archives of Afghanistan were highlighted on the Chronicle of Higher […]

January 17th, 2017

Three papers Accepted for the ICA 2017

The International Communication Association annual meeting in San Diego will include three papers presented by Dr. Khazraee. The schedule of […]

October 20th, 2016

Entanglements: Activism and Technology

Dr. Khazraee was recently invited to present his research at the Digital Media and Social Change: A Transnational Public Sphere? […]

October 18th, 2016

“Manuscripts in the 21st Century” Workshop

The Persisan Manuscript Initiative is excited to announce a 2-day workshop called “Manuscripts in the 21st Century” at the University […]

October 17th, 2016

University Research Council Grant Awarded

Dr. Khazraee has been awarded a seed grant from the Univsersity Research Council to support the development of a prototype […]

October 10th, 2016

PMI Releases a Status Report on the National Archives of Afghanistan.

The National Archive of Afghanistan (NAA) is in one of the most important repositories of Persian and Arabic manuscripts in […]

October 7th, 2016

Dr. Khazraee Featured on

Dr. Emad Khazraee, Co-Principal Investigator of the Persian Manuscript Initiative and Associate Professor at Kent State University, was recently interviewed […]

September 22nd, 2016

Persian Manuscript Initiative Gives Presentation to the Library of Congress