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Mellon Grants CLIR $4.27 Million for Program to Catalog Hidden Collections

subject: hidden collections
special collections
cataloging hidden collections

CLIR Press Releases

For Immediate Release: March 17, 2008

Kathlin Smith

Mellon Grants CLIR $4.27 Million for Program to Catalog Hidden Collections

Washington, D.C.—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) $4.27 million to create a national program to identify and catalog hidden special collections and archives.

Through a national competition, the program will award funds to institutions holding collections of high scholarly value that are difficult or impossible to locate through finding aids. Award recipients will create descriptive information for their hidden collections that will be linked to and interoperable with all other projects funded by this grant, to form a federated environment that can be built upon over time.

CLIR will issue a request for proposals by early June, and decisions will be announced in fall 2008. CLIR expects to award about $4 million in the first cycle. It is possible that the program will be extended for subsequent funding cycles over five years.

“Librarians and archivists have long despaired at the huge amount of intellectually valuable information that, for lack of cataloging, is unknown or inaccessible to scholars,” said CLIR Board Chairperson Paula Kaufman. “This award to CLIR underscores the importance of the hidden collections problem and supports a coordinated, national response. On behalf of the community and the CLIR Board, I want to express my deep gratitude to the Mellon Foundation for its decision to support this important initiative.”

“Only a national program can effectively address the problem of hidden collections,” said CLIR President Charles Henry. “The records and descriptions this program creates will be accessible through the Internet and the Web, exposing collections to a global audience of scholars, students, and teachers. It will facilitate the harvesting, aggregation, and thematic correlation of the records to advance intellectual productivity. As a cyberinfrastructure effort, the program will also build sustainable communities of complementary backgrounds and perspectives within higher education over time.”

CLIR will form a review panel to evaluate proposals and select award recipients.
Scholars will make up half of the ten-person panel; the remaining five will include one university and one college library director, one expert in special collections and one in information technology, and CLIR’s president. “The composition of the committee is meant to ensure the program’s priority of making collections available that are of the highest value to research and teaching,” said Mr. Henry.

More information about the award program is available at

CLIR is an independent, nonprofit, organization whose mission is to expand access to information, however recorded and preserved, as a public good. Through publications, projects, and programs, CLIR works to maintain and improve access to information for generations to come. In partnership with other institutions, CLIR helps create services that expand the concept of “library” and supports the providers and preservers of information. Information about CLIR and its work is available at

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