The initial proposal deadline for the 2020 cycle is now past. Initial round notifications will be sent by September 2, 2020. Those invited to the final round should submit proposals in the online system by Thursday, November 19, 2020. Notification of awards will be sent by April 1, 2021. Questions and answers related to how COVID-19 is affecting the program’s application and review process are being updated here.
For questions about the program, e-mail email@example.com.
Proposal Planning Resources
- Collaborative Application Guidelines and Template (Google Doc) – View Only (no Google account required) or Make your own copy (Google account required) to start collaboratively drafting your proposal. If you use the template, you will need to copy your final answer from each question into the official application form and submit your completed proposal by the application deadline in order to be considered for a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant. This file was most recently updated on March 17, 2020.
- Digitizing Special Formats wiki: This is a list of external resources to help applicants plan projects involving the digitization of rare and unique materials. Content is curated by the Digital Library Federation (DLF).
- Applicant Webinars: CLIR schedules several webinars for applicants during the open call for proposals to orient applicants to the 2020 Digitizing Hidden Collections program and answer questions. Registration links are posted below and recordings will be posted when available.
- Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 2:00 pm Eastern time, Applicant Information Webinar
- Thursday, February 13, 2020, 3:00 pm Eastern time, Applicant Q&A #1 Webinar:
- Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 2:00 pm Eastern time, Applicant Q&A #2 Webinar:
- Questions and answers related to how COVID-19 is affecting the program’s application and review process
- Application System Instructions
- CC0 Creative Commons license
- CLIR’s Indirect Cost Policy
- Guidelines for Grants Involving Consultants or Subcontractors
- Guidelines for the Authors of Letters of Support
- Questions CLIR Asks Reviewers When They Assess Proposals
Applicant Toolkit Videos
Working with former recipients and reviewers, the Digital Library Federation (DLF) has created short videos highlighting issues that have been challenging to past applicants. For more information about the topics introduced here, see the DLF Digitizing Special Formats wiki.
- Film on a Boat: Digitizing Historical Newspapers of the Caribbean – University of Florida (UF), University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras (UPR), Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) (2018)
- I ali’i no ke ali’i i ke kanaka (A chief is a chief because of the people): Justice and Accountability through Access to the records of Hawai’i’s Governments – Hawai’i State Archives, Hawaiinuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawai’i – Manoa, Native Hawaiian Legal Corporation, Awaiaulu Literature Project, Hawai’i State Department of Education’s Office of Hawaiian Education, Honolulu Museum of Art, Washington Place, Royal Order of Kamehameha I (2018)
- Nutarluki “Make Them New” – Bethel Broadcasting, Inc. (KYUK) (2018)
- Digitizing the Records of Philadelphia’s Historic Congregations – Christ Church Preservation Trust, St. George’s Methodist Church, Gloria Dei, Episcopal Dioceses Archives, Presbyterian Historical Society, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Mikveh Israel, African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, American Baptist Historical Society, and the Athenaeum of Philadelphia (2017)
- Genoa Indian School Digital Reconciliation Project – University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation, National Archives at Denver, and National Archives at Kansas City (2017)
- Eastern Bloc Borderlands: Digitizing Russian Military Topographic Maps of Eastern Europe – Indiana University (2017)
- Sculptures in the Air: An Accessible Online Video Repository of the American Sign Language (ASL) Poetry and Literature Collections at the RIT/NTID Deaf Studies Archive – Rochester Institute of Technology and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (2017)
- Japanese Historical Maps – University of California Berkeley, C.V. Starr East Asian Library (2016)
- Home Movies and Amateur Films by Women 1925-1997 – Northeast Historic Film, Chicago Film Archives, and the Lesbian Home Movie Project (2016)
- Digitizing the House of Beadle and Adams and their Nickel and Dime Novels – Northern Illinois University and Villanova University (2016)
- Photographic Collections of the Erie Canal – Erie Canal Museum and the Canal Society of New York State (2015)
- Gabriel Garcia Marquez Online Archive – University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center (2015)
- Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts in PACSCL Libraries – Lehigh University, Linderman Library; Free Library of Philadelphia; University of Pennsylvania Libraries; Bryn Mawr College; College of Physicians of Philadelphia; Haverford College; Library Company of Philadelphia; Rosenbach Museum and Library; Swarthmore College; Temple University; University of Delaware; Chemical Heritage Foundation; Franklin & Marshall College; Villanova University; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2015)
- Biodiversity Heritage Library Field Notes Project – Smithsonian Institution; Missouri Botanical Garden, Peter H. Raven Library; American Museum of Natural History; Yale Peabody Museum; Harvard University, Herbaria Botany Libraries; Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayr Library; University of California, Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology; New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library; The Field Museum; Internet Archive
Frequently Asked Questions
Questions and answers related to how COVID-19 is affecting the program’s application and review process are being updated here. For questions that are not answered there, below or in the application guidelines, contact CLIR program staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. During the application period, CLIR accepts inquiries by e-mail only; no phone calls, please.
Through its support of digitization, this program will enhance the emerging global digital research environment in ways that support new kinds of scholarship for the long term. It will help to ensure that the full wealth of resources held by collecting institutions becomes integrated with the open Web, where it can be made easily discoverable and accessible alongside related materials. To promote broad access, careful preservation, standardization, and usability, approaches to digitization should be coordinated across institutions when feasible. By encouraging strategic collaboration and communication among this program’s grant recipients, CLIR expects to help broaden understanding of the complexity of these issues in the professional communities responsible for rare and unique collections.
- Associations or societies, including local historical societies and cultural associations.
- Libraries and archives, including public libraries, college and university libraries, research libraries, and library consortia or parent organizations such as academic institutions that are responsible for the administration of the library. Archives that are not part of an institution of higher education are also eligible, so long as they are non-profit institutions and their services and materials are made publicly available in support of scholarly research.
- Museums, including aquariums, arboretums and botanical gardens, art museums, youth museums, general museums, historic houses and sites, history museums, nature centers, natural history and anthropology museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, specialized museums, and zoological parks.
- Government units and their agencies or instrumentalities not organized under IRS Section 501(c)3, provided that collecting and disseminating scholarly and cultural resources are among the primary functions of the unit and grant funds will be used for charitable purposes within the scope of the Digitizing Hidden Collections program. We recommend that government units wishing to apply for the Digitizing Hidden Collections grant contact us at email@example.com to ascertain their eligibility.
- Any combination of the above institutions may apply to undertake a collaborative, multi-institution project.
The applicant institution(s) must be located in the United States or in an associated entity, e.g., the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or American Samoa. CLIR also accepts proposals for collaborative projects that include partnerships between U.S. and Canadian institutions. Collaborators at Canadian institutions may serve as co-principal investigators, but the lead institution (i.e., the institution that will lead the work; that will manage the project, including assuming financial responsibility for any funds awarded; and that submits the application) must be a U.S. institution that meets the criteria listed above.
CLIR will accept applications for collections that have been fully or partially cataloged as well as those for which no catalog records exist. Because most finding aids for archival materials do not include item-level descriptions, CLIR understands that some digitization projects will require the production of original descriptive metadata, even if these collections have already been described in a finding aid or in a catalog at the collection or series level. Such descriptive metadata would be in addition to the technical and administrative metadata required to manage the digital objects.
See also: So what do we mean by “hidden”?, Re:Thinking (Blog post, February 12, 2015)
Questions About Proposals
While reviewers consider all proposals separately on their own merits, applicants from institutions submitting multiple proposals should consult with one another as they craft their applications and demonstrate an awareness of other planned projects in their proposal narratives, where relevant, keeping in mind the program’s emphasis on strategic collaborations.
If our institution does not submit an initial proposal, will it still be possible for us to submit a final proposal by the final deadline?
If our institution submits an initial proposal that is deemed not sufficiently competitive by reviewers will it still be possible to submit a final proposal?
- Representative samples of materials to be digitized: Maximum of 10 pages, containing images of up to 10 selected items.
- Rights, Ethics, and Re-Use Statement: Maximum of 4 pages, plus appendices for additional documentation.
- Project Plan: Maximum of 3 pages.
- Technical Plan: Maximum of 4 pages.
- Digital Preservation and Sustainability Plan: Maximum of 2 pages.
Submitted documents that exceed the above page limits will be truncated by program staff before proposals are read by reviewers, and will need to be revised if the proposal moves on to the final round of consideration. For example, if a five-page document is submitted for the Project Plan (limit 3 pages), reviewers will only receive the first three pages of the submitted plan, along with a note explaining that the plan exceeded the page limit.
How specific must applicants be in giving details of their proposed project's budget in the initial proposal?
If working with outside vendors, formal quotes for the project work will not be required until the final application round, at which point a minimum of two quotes must be submitted. In the initial round, applicants should provide an informed estimate of the cost of outsourced work; applicants are encouraged to reach out to potential vendors for a preliminary price point.
The information from your application that will be made public is as follows:
- Name(s) and title(s) of the Principal Investigator(s); the
- Collection/Project Title, Goals and Project Summary; and the
- Description of Content: Public section: all information. (Information provided in the Description of Content: Confidential section will not be made public.)
- Final proposal adjustments: A statement (max. 250 words) summarizing changes made in response to reviewer feedback.
- Letters of support: Three letters of scholarly support and a letter of institutional support from the head of the applicant institution are required. Applicants proposing to digitize collections that document indigenous groups or other historically marginalized communities are also encouraged to submit (optional) letters of support from representatives of those groups.
- Vendor subcontracts/quotes and rationale (if applicable): Applicants working with an external digitization vendor will be asked to provide any subcontracts for or proposals for work associated with this project that supports the proposed costs listed in the budget documents as well as proposals from additional or alternative providers considered. See CLIR’s Guidelines for grants involving consultants or subcontractors (.pdf) for more information. Applicants will also be given the opportunity to explain why a particular vendor was chosen.
- Board/trustee list. The list must be on the applicant institution’s letterhead. This is not required for colleges/universities, federally recognized tribes, or government units. It is required for all other applicants and collaborating institutions.
The final proposal requests letters of scholarly support, letters of institutional support, and optional letters of community support. How are these letters different and who should write them?
|Letters of Institutional Support||Letters of Scholarly Support||Letters of Community Support|
|Application Section||Section 8. Institutional Capacity||Section 4. Scholarly and Community Significance||Section 3. Rights, Ethics, and Re-Use|
|Required v. Optional||REQUIRED||REQUIRED||OPTIONAL|
|What should the letters accomplish?||This letter should demonstrate that the institution is aware of the project, is committed to seeing the project to completion, and understands how the project supports institutional mission and priorities.||These letters should be used to demonstrate to the review panel the scholarly significance and impact of the proposed materials.||When applicants propose projects that include materials from indigenous groups or other historically marginalized communities, these optional letters give voice to those groups and show how community members will participate in conversations about how the proposed materials will be described and made accessible. Applicants may still choose to include these optional letters if dealing with materials connected to a distinct community group that falls outside this scope.|
|Who should write the letters?||This letter should be written by the head administrator for the applicant institutions. The title of this individual may vary between institutions, but this individual should be responsible for making decisions about allocating resources for preserving and sustaining access to the project deliverables over time.||These letter should be written by individuals knowledgeable about the collections or other aspects of the project. They may come from individuals within the institution, but letter writers MAY NOT be directly affiliated with the project. We recommend that applicants seek letter writers outside of their home institutions and even outside their geographic region to help show reviewers the broad scholarly significance of the project. Writers do not need to be “professional” scholars and can include student researchers, teachers, librarians, and curators, among others.||Representative(s) from community groups identified|
|How many letters
should be included?
|At least one letter. Collaborative projects will need to supply one letter for each named collaborating institution.||Exactly three letters should be submitted||Zero to three letters|
|Why do we ask for
|CLIR has found that projects with early support from institutional leadership often progress more smoothly and encounter fewer hurdles after the grant is awarded.||These letter help applicants make the strongest possible case for scholarly significance and possible scholarly uses of the collections once accessible.||These letters help demonstrate institutional awareness of and sensitivity to unique community needs and desires and help mitigate the risks of making culturally sensitive materials openly available. They show that representatives from the community have been consulted about the project and channels of communication are established. Note: letters of community support should not be used as additional letters of scholarly support.|
CLIR also developed Guidelines for the Authors of Letters of Support which may be shared with any potential letter writers to assist them in the writing process. Any additional questions of clarification for these letters can be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions About Core Values
The six core values are: scholarship, comprehensiveness, connectedness, collaboration, sustainability, and openness. Additional information on the program’s core values can be found on the program’s homepage.
See also: Making the Rules: Where to Start, Re:Thinking (Blog post, November 25, 2014).
Who does CLIR consider to be a "scholar" for the purposes of assessing the significance of a project for "scholarship"?
What do you mean by "comprehensiveness"? Under what circumstances may an applicant propose the digitization of parts of a larger collection?
It is permissible to propose the digitization of portions of larger collections, so long as those portions have inherent research value on their own and provide by themselves or in tandem with other available digitized collections comprehensive coverage of a topic or topics of broad scholarly interest. Applicants may propose to digitize a portion, rather than an entire collection, in instances when that portion is part of a collection that is too large to be digitized within the restrictions of the program, when that portion is the only portion of a collection likely to be of any interest to scholars, or when, in the case of a multi-institutional collaboration, that portion is the only portion of a collection relevant to the overall theme of the project. It is not permissible to apply to this program to digitize select items within a collection in cases where those selections have not already been made or to provide “digitize on demand” services. It is not permissible to apply to digitize only “highlights” of a particular collection or collections.
Guidance and Criteria for Selection
For further information about how reviewers evaluate Hidden Collections proposals, consult the list of questions CLIR asks reviewers (PDF).
CLIR awards approximately $4,000,000 in grant funds per cycle. For this reason, the number of large grants in any single year is likely to be small. However, all submissions are solely evaluated on the extent to which they exemplify the program’s core values in the context of the overall pool of applications. Smaller grant requests are thus not necessarily favored over large ones.
What kinds of information must applicants include in the Budget Narrative? What costs may be requested in the budget?
Eligibility for Collaborative Projects
- To qualify as a multi-institutional—e.g., partnership or consortial—effort, the proposed project must involve at least one U.S. 501(c)(3) or educational institution as the lead applicant and at least one additional U.S. or Canadian non-profit or educational institution as a participating partner. Formalized consortia that represent a membership of one or more eligible organizations also are eligible to submit collaborative proposals, provided that multiple members will participate in a proposed project.
- The applicant institution and its partners must be governed by at least two distinct entities. Proposals from collaborating subunits of an entity, established by one overarching charter—such as different centers, libraries, archives, or museums governed by the same university—do not qualify as partnerships or consortia and therefore are limited to the same restrictions as proposals from single institutions.
The following are factors reviewers will also consider:
- Both the applicant institution and any named partner institutions must have substantial responsibilities for and interests in the project beyond the mere fiscal management of grant funds or the receipt of funds for services provided. Vendors providing services in exchange for grant funds do not qualify as partners even if the vendor is a non-profit organization.
May consortia or multiple partnering institutions, as well as single institutions, apply for a grant?
Any division of funds and responsibilities should be addressed in the project plan and other explanatory sections of the proposal. Applicants submitting a joint or consortial project must include a detailed list of collections to be digitized in their final proposals.
Applicants should also clearly explain how the collaboration or partnership advances the missions and meets the priorities of the partner organizations or institutions and how it enhances the capacity of each partner to support the creation of new knowledge. Collaborating partners should identify benefits of the project that would not be possible if the partners worked individually.
CLIR also encourages applicants to consider working together on a less formal basis, even when submitting separate proposals. Applicants may note in their proposals that they are interested in collaborating with other applicants holding similar collections or engaging in similar activities. The review panel will consider the potential benefits of these informal partnerships when recommending proposals for funding.