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Mellon Awards CLIR $2.8 Million to Extend Recordings at Risk Grant Program

Arlington, VA, March 27, 2019—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded CLIR $2,807,000 to continue its regranting program to digitize “at-risk” audio and audiovisual materials of high scholarly value. The program will run four competitions between May 2019 and April 2021, awarding a total of $2.2 million.

Audio and audiovisual recordings document vital, irreplaceable aspects of twentieth and twenty-first century life, but if the current generation of professionals fails to act, vast amounts of this history will be lost. Digital reformatting is currently the best available solution for ensuring the survival and utility of recorded content stored on fragile or obsolete media such as magnetic tape, grooved discs, cylinders, or film.

Launched in 2016 by CLIR with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Recordings at Risk has awarded nearly $2 million over the first four grant cycles. “By continuing to offer relatively small grants to a wide range of collecting institutions serving scholars, students, and the public, CLIR will encourage professionals to identify institutional priorities for digital reformatting, establish good working relationships with partners who will help them undertake this work, and raise awareness of best practices for the description, storage, and maintenance of digitized audio and audiovisual content,” said Christa Williford, CLIR’s director of research and assessment.

“Audiovisual content, the fastest growing segment within archives and special collections, presents distinct access and preservation challenges,” said Donald J. Waters, senior program officer at The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “In partnering with small and large collecting institutions across the nation, the Recordings at Risk initiative helps ensure that materials remain available for future generations.”

CLIR will open its next competition on May 1, 2019. Subsequent calls for proposals will be issued in November 2019, May 2020, and November 2020. Awards will range from $10,000 to $50,000 and will cover direct costs of preservation reformatting for audio and/or visual time-based media by eligible institutions working with experienced service providers. To make their determinations, CLIR’s independent review panel will assess the potential scholarly or public impact of proposed projects, the urgency of undertaking those projects, the viability of applicants’ plans for long-term preservation, and the overall cost-effectiveness of the proposals.

For more information on the program, visit

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.

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