KNEXT is a three-year collaborative project between Kent State University (KSU-SLIS) and the University of Maryland (UMD-CIS), which partners with local public libraries, small business development centers, economic development organizations, and community advocacy groups to bring advanced data analytics and business intelligence (DA&BI) services to public libraries in order to support small businesses, entrepreneurs, and community advocates within two recovering communities in Ohio and Maryland. Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ National Leadership Grants for National Digital Platform, this research project addresses the question: How can we integrate advances in big data and data analytics into libraries as essential community anchors in a way that empowers those communities while encouraging economic development and well-being? Hence, this project addresses two strategic goals of the IMLS: to “promote the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge” within local communities through libraries and promote libraries as community anchors “to enhance civic engagement and economic vitality.”

KNEXT is implemented in three phases (over three years):

  • Needs Assessment and Pre-Development Research,
  • Development and Initial Implementation,
  • Implementation and Evaluation.

The project follows a participatory applied research approach to engage with the community and inform its design through their feedback while investigating its overarching research questions.

The KNEXT research project will:

  1. Identify the range of DA&BI services that can best serve the needs of small businesses and community advocates by assessing current services and analyzing unmet needs;
  2. Identify the social and institutional barriers to integrating advances of DA&BI into the practices of small businesses and community advocates;
  3. Further develop our coalition of academia, public libraries, small business development centers, small businesses, and community advocates;
  4. Identify sources of useful data (national, state, county) and consolidate data in a repository for long-term access and delivery;
  5. Create a platform and GUI dashboard for libraries to provide DA&BI services to the community using machine learning, data mining, web mining, and text analytics;
  6. Train the staff of the partner libraries to use the analytics dashboard and run DA&BI scenarios;
  7. Evaluate the impact of the services on community development.

About the KNEXT Team

Principal Investigator

Susan smiling with hair pulled back


University of Maryland College Park
Susan J. Winter is the Associate Dean for Research and co-Director of the Center for Advanced Study of Communities and Information at the University of Maryland’s School of Information Studies. She currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Information Technology, Information and Organization, and Group and Organization Management. Susan received her PhD from the University of Arizona and her MA from the Claremont Graduate University. Her research interests are on the post-industrial relationship between information, technology and new forms of work. She is especially interested in work as collective action and the interplay between institutions and individuals.

Senior Personnel

Andrew Fellows in a black suit jacket and light blue shirt


University of Maryland College Park
Andrew Fellows coordinates Campus Community Connection at the University of Maryland, in a joint appointment to the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education/School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation and the College of Information Studies. He served as Mayor of College Park from 2009-2015, and has over 30 years of grassroots organizing and management experience, including as Chesapeake Regional Director for Clean Water Action from 1999 through 2014. He earned an M.A. at the University of Maryland after serving for two terms as President of the Graduate Student Government, following a B.S. in Broadcasting and Film at Boston University.

Joel Chan headshot


Assistant Professor in the University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies (iSchool), and Human-Computer Interaction Lab (HCIL). Previously, he was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Project Scientist in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. He received his PhD in Cognitive Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. His research and teaching focus on the intersection of people, information, and creativity. He wants to know how they (can best) combine to enable us to design the future(s) we want to live in.

Graduate Students

Jonathan Brier smiling with glasses and wearing a green and yellow pocketed shirt


University of Maryland College Park
Jonathan Brier is a Ph.D. student at the School of Information at University of Maryland College Park, advised by Susan Winter and Brian Butler. His research covers the evaluation, development, and evolution of cyberinfrastructure and online communities. Currently, he is focused on the evaluation of the sustainability of online communities in the domain of citizen science. He is a Junior Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI) in the iSchool.

Myeong Lee Profile Headshot


University of Maryland College Park
Myeong is a Ph.D. candidate studying information science. His research interests are in understanding the dynamics of cities, local groups, and local information inequality. He also designs and implements systems that demonstrate geographically-embedded structures of information and associated issues. He is a Junior Fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI) in the iSchool; also, he is affiliated with the Digital Curation Innovation Center (DCIC) and Platial Analysis Lab. In the professional world, he is a Data Science & Technology Fellow at The Center for Open Data Enterprise, a non-profit based in Washington D.C. that advocates for open data movements, where he led the development of the Open Data Impact Map and advised the SDG National Reporting Initiative on technological strategy.

Undergraduate Students


University of Maryland College Park
Zahra Farhadi is a senior at the School of Information at the University of Maryland College Park, where she is majoring in Information Science with a concentration in Data science. She currently serves as an undergraduate research assistant at iSchool. Her research interests are Data Science, Machine Learning, and AI for social good. She is interested in solving real-world problems through data-driven decision making.

Community Partners and Collaborators



Maryland Small Business Development Center


Prince George’s County Economic Development Corporation


Prince George’s County Memorial Library System


Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce


Washington DC SCORE Chapter



Hudson Library & Historical Society


Lorain County Public Library System


Akron-Summit County Public Library


Minority Business Assistance Centers-Akron


Ohio Small Business Development Centers


LaunchNET, Kent State University


Cleveland Public Library


Akron-Summit County Public Library

Affiliated Investigators


Kent State University
Emad Khazraee is an Assistant Professor in the College of Communication and Information, School of Information at Kent State University and a fellow at Berkman-Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard. He holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the University of Tehran and a Ph.D. in Information Studies from the College of Computing and Informatics, Drexel University. Emad’s research is formed around the interplay between social and technical phenomena. Relying on sociotechnical approaches to social media studies and conceptual frameworks developed in Science Technology Studies (STS), he is exploring the role of social media in social transformations.

Karen McDonald in a golden suit jacket and glasses


Kent State University
Karen MacDonald is the Business & Entrepreneurship Outreach Librarian at Kent State University. She also serves on the KSU Patent & Trademark Review Committee. Her approach to “outreach” includes promoting the use of the Library’s business information resources to any and all potential users, especially entrepreneurs. Karen co-edited the book, Business Librarianship & Entrepreneurship Outreach (2010), which profiles programs at colleges and universities that provide information research assistance to entrepreneurs. She is an active member of the Special Libraries Association (SLA). She received her BBA from Eastern Michigan University and her MBA and MLIS from Wayne State University.

David Jurca smiling wearing a backpack over a denim jacket outdoors


Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative, Kent State University
David Jurca is the Associate Director at Kent State’s Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative (CUDC), where his work integrates professional practice, applied research, and teaching. Responding to dynamic community needs, he advances the CUDC’s various advocacy initiatives and spearheads efforts to develop effective techniques for public engagement. David is also an Assistant Professor of Urban Design in Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and serves as Chair of the City of Cleveland’s Near West Design Review Committee. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from The Ohio State University and received his Master of Architecture from Kent State University.


Small Business Development Center, Kent State University

The KNEXT News

KNEXT in College Park, MD and Cuyahoga County, Ohio

By ANDREW MACKENZIE FELLOWS From my years of experience as a resident, including a dozen as mayor and a council member, of College Park, Maryland, I know that my community puts significant value on small, non-chain, locally owned businesses.  The local Starbucks may be appreciated, but the Bagel Place at the corner of College and Baltimore …

Kickoff of the KNEXT Research – Summary

The Knowledge Extension research project led by Kent State University, School of Information and the University of Maryland College of Information Studies kicked off their respective research projects with partners from the surrounding libraries, local businesses, small business development centers, and economic leaders in the region. The Kickoffs occurred on January 24, 2018, in Ohio …

The KNEXT Latest Posts

Upcoming Talks: Emad Khazraee at MIT Media Lab

What: Emad Khazraee, Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center and assistant professor in the school of information (iSchool) at Kent State University, will present his research, AI and Public Libraries: How public libraries can become engines of innovation for local communities. When: May 17th, 2018, 4:00 pm Where: MIT Media Lab (75 Amherst St., rm 240)

KNEXT in Data Days Cleveland

What: Emad Khazraee presents KNEXT at Data Days Cleveland in a panel lead by Sarah Dobransky of the Clevland Public Library. Emad is joined by David Jurca of Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative and Anastasia Diamond Ortiz Director of the Lorain Public Library System. When: Friday April 6, 2018 11:15am – 12:15pm Where: TechHive 6815 Euclid …

KNEXT kickoff at the University of Maryland

The KNEXT research team will hold a kickoff event at the University of Maryland with the local partners on March 9, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Edit: KNEXT Kickoff Summary