For Applicants

The 2017 application for the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program is now open. The deadline to submit an application in this cycle is 5:00 pm ET on April 3, 2017. 
2017 Application Guidelines >>
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has generously awarded the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) funds to support a 2016 cycle of the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program. The purpose of this program is to digitize and provide access to non-digital collections of rare or unique content in cultural heritage institutions. Its aims are to enhance the emerging global digital research environment in ways that support new kinds of scholarship for the long term and to ensure that the full wealth of resources held by memory institutions becomes integrated with the open Web. A list of the projects funded through this program in December 2015 are on the program’s website. Digitizing Hidden Collections is one element of an emerging, interrelated set of national conversations that is the purview of the Committee on Coherence at Scale. The encompassing vision of the Committee insists on understanding large scale projects and programs as aspects of a larger whole that is most efficiently built and maintained as a functioning system. The Digitizing Hidden Collections program coheres around these six core values:
  • Scholarship: The program is designed to maximize its impact on the creation and dissemination of new knowledge.
  • Comprehensiveness: The program supports digitization projects that will provide thorough coverage of an important topic or topics of high interest to scholars, in ways that help those scholars understand digitized sources’ provenance and context.
  • Connectedness: The program supports projects that make digitized sources easily discoverable and accessible alongside related materials, including materials held by other collecting institutions as well as those held within the home institution.
  • Collaboration: The program promotes strategic partnerships rather than duplication of capacity and effort.
  • Sustainability: The program promotes best practices for ensuring the long-term availability and discoverability of digital files created through digitization.
  • Openness: The program ensures that digitized content will be made available to the public as easily and completely as possible, given ethical and legal constraints.

Contents

Eligibility

To receive funding through this program, all grant recipients will be required to adhere to the following stipulations:
  • A head administrator at each recipient institution, including partnering institutions in cases of collaborative projects, must sign an intellectual property agreement with CLIR, through which they will assume full responsibility for any violations of intellectual property or other applicable laws resulting from project activities.
  • All metadata created through the program must be explicitly dedicated to the public domain through a Creative Commons Public Domain Declaration License (CC0). Exceptions may be made for culturally sensitive metadata.
  • Recipient institutions, including partnering institutions in cases of collaborative projects, must not claim additional rights or impose additional access fees or restrictions to the digital files created through the project, beyond those already required by law or existing agreements. Exceptions may be made for those materials in the public domain without the express wishes of local, traditional, and indigenous source communities.
  • Materials that are in the public domain in analog form must continue to be in the public domain once they have been digitized. CLIR strongly encourages grant recipients to share digitized collections as public domain resources or with Creative Commons licenses, as appropriate.
Generally speaking, to be eligible for this program applicants must be recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt under one of the following:
  • IRS Code Section 501(c)3
  • IRS Code Section 115
  • IRS Code Section 170(c)1
Grants may be made to 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 hiddencollections@clir.org to ascertain their eligibility. 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. To facilitate international collaboration, U.S.-Canadian partnerships will be allowed to request additional travel funding (up to $10,000). Note that all materials proposed for digitization must be owned and held by academic, research, or cultural heritage institutions in the United States or Canada; the materials themselves must also be located in the United States or Canada. Materials held in repositories outside these two countries are not eligible for digitization through this program at this time, even if the owner institution is itself a U.S. or Canadian entity. Limitations: Single-institution applications
  • Minimum allowable request for 2017: $50,000
  • Maximum allowable request for 2017: $250,000
  • Minimum allowable project term: 12 months
  • Maximum allowable project term: 24 months
  • Projects must begin between January 1 and June 1, 2018
  • Projects must be completed by May 31, 2020
Limitations: Collaborative, multi-institution applications (partnerships/consortia)
  • Minimum allowable request for 2017: $50,000
  • Maximum allowable request for 2017: $500,000
  • Minimum allowable project term: 12 months
  • Maximum allowable project term: 36 months
  • Projects must begin between January 1 and June 1, 2018
  • Projects must be completed by May 31, 2021

 

Sample Proposals

Below are links to excerpts from successful proposals from previous cycles of the Digitizing Hidden Collections program. These samples do not include any budget information, letters of support, cover letters, or CVs; additional sensitive information within the proposals has been redacted or removed. Sample Proposals: Photographic Collections of the Erie Canal – Erie Canal Museum and the Canal Society of New York State Sharing “Gabo” with the World: Building the Gabriel Garcia Marquez Online Archive from His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center – The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center The Digital Archive of Native American Petitions in Massachusetts – Harvard University and Yale University Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis: Toward A Comprehensive Online Library of Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts in PACSCL Libraries in Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware – 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

Key Dates in 2017

The application process has two phases. The deadline for initial proposals is April 3, 2017, at 5:00 PM EST. The final proposal round is by invitation only. Applicants will be notified and issued feedback on initial proposals on July 14, 2017. Only those applicants whose proposals are approved by the program’s review panel will be able to submit a final proposal, due Wednesday, September 20, 2017, at 5:00 p.m. ET. Links to the application form, associated templates, and the program guidelines can be found in the application guidelines. For questions about the proposal process that are not answered in the guidelines or the Questions and Answers section below, email us at hiddencollections@clir.org. We regret that we cannot answer questions by telephone.

Program Timeline

Below is the full timeline for the 2017 Digitizing Hidden Collections program, including applicant webinars, staff office hours, and key dates. All webinars are first come, first served. Prior registration is an option but is not required. If you are unable to attend the webinar or the room is at capacity, complete recordings of each session will be posted here shortly following their conclusion. In addition to the two webinars, there will be three “office hour” sessions, during which applicants can ask additional questions to Digitizing Hidden Collections staff. Webinars will be about one hour each, and are intended to help orient applicants and to answer questions that are general or broadly applicable. Office hours will be conducted via live chat, and applicants may drop in at any time during the scheduled office hours to ask more specific questions related to individual projects.
  • Thursday, February 2, 2017, 2:00 pm Eastern time: CLIR hosted a webinar on applying to the Digitizing Hidden Collections program in Adobe Connect. A recording and slides from the webinar are now available.
  • Thursday, March 2, 2017, 2:00 pm Eastern time: CLIR will host an informational Q & A webinar for prospective applicants in Adobe Connect. Preregistration for this webinar is now available here. Feel free to send questions to be answered during the webinar in advance to hiddencollections@clir.org.
  • Thursday, March 9, 2017, 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Eastern time: CLIR will host an office hours session for prospective applicants in Adobe Connect via chat.
  • Thursday, March 16, 2017, 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm Eastern time: CLIR will host an office hours session for prospective applicants in Adobe Connect via chat.
  • Tuesday, March 21, 2017, 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm Eastern time: CLIR will host an office hours session for prospective applicants in Adobe Connect via chat.
  • Monday, April 3, 2017, 5:00 pm Eastern time: Deadline for submission of initial proposals.
  • Friday, July 14, 2017: Initial proposal feedback issued to applicants. Comments will be emailed to the Principal Investigator(s) and/or primary contact listed in the initial proposal. At this time, the online application system will be re-opened to applicants who have been invited by the review panel to advance to the final round.
  • Wednesday, September 20, 2017, 5:00 pm Eastern time: Deadline for submission of final proposals.
  • Friday, December 29, 2017: Applicants will be notified of their application’s final status by this date.

Frequently Asked Questions

For questions that are not answered below or in the application guidelines, contact CLIR program staff at hiddencollections@clir.org. During the application period, CLIR accepts inquiries by e-mail only; no phone calls, please.

General questions about the program

What is the rationale for this grant program? In keeping with CLIR’s aim to promote positive changes in practice that contribute to new knowledge, this program supports digitization activities that facilitate complete access to rare cultural artifacts online. Its focus is the creation of digital representations of unique content of high scholarly significance that will be discoverable and usable as elements of a coherent national collection. CLIR is committed to projects that contribute to a national or international good, using methods that are cost efficient and subject to wider adoption. 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. Who may apply to this program? For a detailed explanation of who may apply for a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant, please read the eligibility requirements. Applicant institutions and partners may include, but are not limited to:
  • 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 hiddencollections@clir.org 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. How do you define “special collections” and “archives”? For the purposes of this program, special collections are any kind of rare or unique materials housed in secure, monitored environments and made available to researchers. Archives are unique, often unpublished, materials associated with a specific individual, topic, location, or organization that is of interest to researchers. By not limiting these terms to particular subjects, media, or formats, CLIR hopes to encourage proposals that encompass the broadest possible range of evidence of our historical, scientific, intellectual, and cultural heritage. What do you mean by “hidden”? For the purposes of this program, applicants must convincingly argue that their collections are “hidden” in the sense that they cannot be used for important scholarly work until they are fully digitized, discoverable, and accessible. 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) Must a single technological platform be used? Digitizing Special Formats Wiki >> No. Applicants are free to choose the standards or technologies they believe will best suit their project and their users’ needs, and should justify their choices in the application. Applicants may find information from the Digitizing Special Formats wiki, which is curated by the Digital Library Federation, helpful in planning project proposals.

Questions about initial proposals

Why does CLIR have a two-phase proposal process? The decision to require initial proposals prior to accepting final proposals was made in response to feedback from CLIR’s applicants and reviewers. The purpose of the initial proposal is to give reviewers a way to assist applicants in improving the quality of their proposals. May an institution submit more than one proposal? Institutions may submit more than one proposal, but each proposal must have a unique principal investigator. An individual may not act as a principal investigator on more than one project at any time, and may not be named as a principal investigator on more than one proposal during a single cycle. 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? No. 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? No. Applicants submitting initial proposals that do not adhere to the stated requirements of the program, that are not ranked sufficiently highly in a given cycle, or that in reviewers’ collective judgment would benefit from significant revision in order to be competitive, may not advance to the final proposal round. Are applicants required to complete all sections of the initial proposal application? Yes, all sections are required. Because of the great variety of collections and institutions that participate in the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program, certain questions will be more relevant to some applicants than they are to others. If a question does not pertain to the proposed project, a response of “N/A” is sufficient. Incomplete applications will not be eligible for review. What happens if a document exceeds the page limit? The following documents have page limits:
  • 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 recieve 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? Applicants should give their best possible estimate of costs. The initial budget is an important factor as the reviewers decide which applications will advance to the final proposal phase. Evidence supporting budget figures must be included in the Budget Narrative. Significant changes to the budget between the two rounds, particularly in the case of cost increases, should be strongly justified. 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. How will I know my initial proposal has been successfully submitted? Once an initial proposal application has been successfully submitted, the applicant will no longer be able to edit it. Additionally, the application system will send an automatic email message confirming that the application has been successfully submitted to the email address used to log into the application. The message is generated immediately upon submission of the application; however, because this email is automatically generated, it may be quarantined by some spam filters. Will all information contained in the proposals remain confidential? A limited amount of information submitted will become public, as part of the Hidden Collections Registry. A second section will remain confidential to the review panel. Note that only information from complete, submitted applications will be included in the Registry. CLIR will not publicize information from in-progress applications that are not submitted by the applicant. 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.)
How do the questions asked in the initial proposal compare with those in the final proposal? Most elements of the initial proposal and the final proposal are the same, and applicants will be given the opportunity to revise information submitted in their initial proposals during the final proposal phase. Applicants will be asked to submit the following additional elements with final proposals:
  • Cover sheet: Applicants will be required to complete and include a cover sheet with their final proposal.
  • Vendor quotes (if applicable): Applicants working with an external digitization vendor will need to provide copies of at least two quotes or proposed contracts for subcontracted work associated with this project, in which the relevant work to be conducted and costs incurred are clearly delineated. See CLIR’s Guidelines for grants involving consultants or subcontractors (.pdf) for more information.
  • Letters of support from scholars: Exactly three letters of scholarly support are required for each proposal. These letters must come from individuals knowledgeable about the collections or some other aspect of the project, but may not come from those who are directly affiliated with the project. It is strongly recommended that applicants obtain these letters of support from scholars outside their home institution, and at least one letter from outside their geographic region. Any letters of scholarly support submitted beyond the first three will be discarded prior to review.
  • Institutional letter of support: One letter of support from the head administrator of the applicant institution. This letter should express the institution’s commitment to undertake the proposed project and explain how it advances the institution’s mission. Applicants proposing collaborative projects are additionally required to submit letters of support from head administrators at partnering institutions. These should be included with the primary institutional letter of support in a single file in PDF format. Each letter of institutional support should be accompanied by an institutional support cover sheet, which is different from the main cover sheet mentioned above.

Questions about core values

What are the program’s “core values”? The “core values” for Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives are statements that affirm the program’s broad objectives. These statements are provided to guide applicants in developing their projects, and to guide reviewers in assessing applicants’ proposals. CLIR’s review panel and officers of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation guide program staff in reassessing the program’s priorities and the  relevance of the core values to these priorities on an annual basis, making adjustments as needed. The six core values are: scholarship, comprehensiveness, connectedness, collaboration, sustainability, and openness. Additional information on the program’s core values can be found here. 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”? CLIR’s review panel takes a broad view of scholarship which encompasses the productive activities of professional and student researchers, teachers, journalists, and artists. Many professional, public activities of librarians, archivists, curators, or others working in collecting institutions may be considered scholarship as well. In general, any likely use of a digitized collections that would result in research, teaching, learning, or another public good can be considered “scholarship,” and CLIR aspires to fund proposals that will support all of these activities. Projects best suited to support personal research, such as genealogical research, are unlikely to be competitive. What do you mean by “comprehensiveness”? Under what circumstances may an applicant propose the digitization of parts of a larger collection? The program supports digitization projects that will provide thorough coverage of an important topic or topics of high interest to scholars, in ways that help those scholars understand digitized sources’ provenance and context. 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. Must all content digitized through this program be already in the public domain? No. Applicants may propose the digitization of source materials that are protected by copyright or other laws, so long as the applicant institution and all partner institutions are prepared to execute and abide by CLIR’s intellectual property agreement for this program. CLIR encourages the use of the standardized rights statements like those provided by RightsStatements.org to communicate to the public the copyright status of content digitized through the program, and information about its re-use. In addition, the intellectual property agreement does require that all metadata created through this program be explicitly dedicated to the public domain. See the Rights, Ethics, and Re-use section of the application guidelines for further information. Links to resources related to copyright and intellectual property may be found on the Digitizing Special Formats wiki. How do I dedicate the metadata created through my Hidden Collections project to the public domain through a Creative Commons Public Domain Declaration License? This information can be found on the Creative Commons website.

Guidance and criteria for selection

What are the criteria for awards? Grants are awarded to proposals that best exemplify the six core values of the program (see core values FAQ). Top priority is given to projects that will have the greatest impact on research, teaching, and learning. Scholars increasingly work in a digital environment and are interested in finding related collections held in multiple institutions. Consequently, collaborative proposals that aggregate disparately located but similarly themed collections may be more favorably weighed than those that do not feature such collaboration. For further information about how reviewers evaluate Hidden Collections proposals, consult the list of questions CLIR asks reviewers (PDF). How important is innovation? CLIR expects that this program will support innovative and increasingly efficient methods of digitization, description, and dissemination of information about cultural heritage materials. Applicants must demonstrate to reviewers that their planned approaches to description and digitization are reasonable and cost-effective, without replicating past work on the collection or wasting time and attention on unnecessarily detailed metadata. While innovation is not a requirement for participation in the program, applications that propose sound yet truly ground-breaking approaches often are more attractive to reviewers. Applications that propose adopting others’ established best practices in ways that strengthen the coherence of local activities with national and international efforts to protect and promote the use of unique and rare cultural heritage resources are also highly valued. CLIR leaves the definitions of “ground-breaking” and “innovative” deliberately open so that applicants may describe what these mean in their own institutional and professional contexts. All applicants should demonstrate an understanding of how their proposed approach to digitization fits into current understanding of professional practice, regardless of whether they propose unique improvements to this practice. What will be the typical size of a project grant? The sizes of the grants will vary. Applicants from single institutions may request funds in amounts ranging from a minimum of $50,000 to a maximum of $250,000; applicants from multiple institutions collaborating on a single project may request funds in amounts ranging from a minimum of $50,000 to a maximum of $500,000. The sizes of grants will vary widely within these ranges. Requests that fall outside these ranges will not be considered. No more than $4,000,000 in grant funds may be awarded in a given year. 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 formats will be considered? The range of possible source materials eligible for digitization through this program is not explicitly restricted, although all source documents or objects should fit the program’s definitions of “special collections” or “archives” (above), be non-digital in nature, and contain content not already available in digital form. Collections comprising a variety of source formats are welcome, from printed materials, archives, ephemera, moving images on film or videotape, all types of analog sound recordings, physical specimens, works of art, to myriad types of artifacts. Applicants should note that digital reformatting and description of born digital or already digitized materials are out of scope for this program. Will conservation be an element of grant consideration? Given the program’s priorities, reviewers will be reluctant to fund the processing of materials requiring extensive conservation treatment before they could be made available, unless the applicant is able to fund this work through other means.The focus of this program is not conservation and no funds will be allocated for the purposes of physical conservation of non-digital collections. Costs associated with the rehousing of materials may not be included in project budgets. What kinds of information must applicants include in the Budget Narrative? What costs may be requested in the budget? Consult the Funding and Appendix: Budget sections of the program guidelines for details about these requirements. Requests for funding for equipment, supplies, or activities that are disallowed or outside the scope of this grant program may result in disqualification. This program’s purpose is to digitize and provide access to non-digital collections of rare or unique content in cultural heritage institutions. Are applicants required to show a cost share? No. The application’s Budget Detail neither requests nor accommodates cost-sharing figures, and they should not be included in that document. Evidence of your institution’s investment in the project may be detailed in the Budget Narrative and is encouraged, but not required.

Eligibility for collaborative projects

What qualifies as a collaborative project? Collaboration can take many forms. One collaborative project might seek to bring together large quantities of related material; another might enable a larger institution to share its technical expertise and infrastructure with a smaller organization that possesses important content they would not be able to digitize, preserve, and share widely without assistance. In light of this, the final determination of whether a multi-institution project qualifies and is eligible for a grant of up to $500,000 for a length of up to 36 months will be made by the review panelists on the basis of a holistic reading of the proposal. The following are the prerequisites for being considered a collaborative project: Prerequisites:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Each collaborating institution involved in a project must be willing to sign CLIR’s intellectual property agreement for multi-institution projects. Note that this document varies slightly from the single-party agreement. Please note that each institution contributing material for digitization must be named as a collaborating institution within the application and sign the intellectual property agreement.
  • The applicant must submit a collaboration statement in Section 1 of their application.
The following are factors reviewers will also consider: Contributing factors:
  • 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.
  • The partnership or consortium must be demonstrably valuable to all partners in terms of minimizing costs, sharing resources (including expertise), maximizing impacts, and/or increasing the accessibility and discoverability of digitized content and original source materials.
  • The proposed project should have a thematic coherence that supports an argument for collaboration, as opposed to incorporating unrelated collections from individual institutions.
If you have questions about which organizations could be considered collaborating institutions for your proposed project, contact CLIR at hiddencollections@clir.org. Decisions about whether or not projects qualify as collaborations will ultimately be made by the Digitizing Hidden Collections review panel; program staff members will provide guidance in this area to the best of their ability. May consortia or multiple partnering institutions, as well as single institutions, apply for a grant? Yes. CLIR encourages applications from consortia, or partnerships of two or more collaborating institutions, including U.S.-Canadian partnerships. The submitted budget should aggregate the total funds requested; all funds will be disbursed to the applicant institution. CLIR will not disburse funds for one award to several institutions. One applicant institution or organization must serve as the administrator. 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. May consortia or multiple partnering institutions name more than three Principal Investigators and/or submit more than three résumés with their application? No. All applications may only include a maximum of three named Principal Investigators and three résumés. Applicants may describe the qualifications and expertise of other relevant staff in other sections of the application, as appropriate. Partnering applicants may also describe how access to others’ expertise is one of the specific benefits of their collaboration under “Institutional Capacity.”