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Call for Proposals: Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program

Washington, DC, Jan. 13, 2014-The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) has issued its seventh annual Request for Proposals for the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program.

Respondents to this request must complete and submit initial proposals for cataloging and processing projects to the program’s online application system by 5:00PM Eastern Time on Friday, March 21, 2014.

Created in 2008, the Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program supports the identification and cataloging of unique materials of high scholarly value that are held by libraries, archives, museums, and other not-for-profit research and cultural heritage institutions. Award recipients create Web-accessible records according to widely used standards and apply current best practices established in the library, archival, and museum professions.

In evaluating project proposals, the review panel will consider the potential national impact on scholarship and teaching; the use of highly efficient approaches to description that either implement established model practices or serve as new models for others; and the adoption of workflow, outreach, and data-sharing practices that maximize connections to scholarly and other user communities.

CLIR seeks both model projects and those that adopt or adapt models others have established. In recent years, library, archival, and museum professionals have made great strides in determining standards and best practices for efficient cataloging and processing of hidden collections. Applicants will be expected to demonstrate an awareness of these developments and to justify their proposed projects in this broader context. At the same time, truly innovative projects that address problems such as description of born-digital collections and hybrid analog/digital collections are strongly encouraged, as are multi-institutional collaborative partnerships that will simultaneously expose related hidden collections.

Most U.S.-based not-for-profit cultural heritage institutions are eligible for the program. Applicants may nominate collections of any format and from any field worthy of national attention, but the collections in question must be truly hidden-they must not be discoverable by scholarly users working within the relevant subject domains, either through digital or analog means.

Canadian not-for-profit libraries, archives, and museums may participate as partners in U.S.-led collaborative projects, with the stipulation that a U.S. partner must take responsibility for the application process, project leadership, and the management of grant funds.

The minimum threshold for requests in 2014 is $50,000; the maximum allowable request is $500,000. Projects must be between 12 and 36 months in length, and can begin anytime between January 1 and June 1, 2015. All projects must conclude by May 31, 2018.

Additional details, guidelines, and a link to CLIR’s online application system for this program are available at

CLIR administers this national effort with the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Since the program began in 2008, 109 grants totaling nearly $23.5 million have been made to a variety of institutions nationwide.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. It aims to promote forward-looking collaborative solutions that transcend disciplinary, institutional, professional, and geographic boundaries in support of the public good.

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