Application Guidelines

The deadline for Digitizing Hidden Collections final proposals has now passed. Notification for the final round will be sent to applicants on or before December 29, 2017. For questions about the program e-mail hiddencollections@clir.org.

Carefully read the guidelines below prior to beginning the application process. You will find answers to most of your questions here or on the For Applicants page. Should you have questions not answered in these two places, contact CLIR at hiddencollections@clir.org. During the application period, CLIR accepts inquiries by email only — no phone calls, please.

CONTENTS

Final Proposal Round

For applicants selected to advance to the second round, final proposals are due Wednesday, September 20 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

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. Quotes should also include relevant digitization specifications, such as file formats produced (e.g. TIFF; JPEG 2000) and resolution (e.g. ppi; bit depth). Additional information on technical specifications for digitization can be found in the FADGI Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials. See CLIR’s Guidelines for grants involving consultants or subcontractors (.pdf) for more information on vendor quotes.
  • Letters of support from scholars: 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. Please note that CLIR accepts only three letters of scholarly support per project; any additional letters submitted will be removed from the application prior to review.
  • Institutional letter(s) of support: One letter of support from the head administrator of the applicant institution; applicants proposing collaborative projects are required to submit additional letters of support from head administrators at each partnering institution. The letter(s) should express the institution’s commitment to undertake the proposed project and explain how it advances the institution’s mission. 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.

Prior to submitting final proposals, applicants should:

  • revise proposals in response to feedback received from reviewers in the initial round;
  • proofread the proposal and all attachments; and
  • review CLIR’s intellectual property agreement. (Note: CLIR’s IP agreement only needs to be signed by projects that have been nominated for funding. However, CLIR encourages all finalists to review the agreement in advance).

Introduction to the Online Application System

Navigating the Application System

Eligibility Questions

To view this program’s full eligibility requirements, click here.

Is this a collaborative project?

Note that the maximum allowable request ($500,000 vs. $250,000) and the maximum allowable time frame (12-36 months vs. 12-24 months) are greater for collaborative projects. If you are unsure whether your project qualifies as a collaborative project for the purposes of this program, you can review the definition here.

What is the size of the request (in whole dollars)?

Requests may range in size from a minimum of $50,000 to a maximum of $250,000 for single-institution projects or $500,000 for collaborative, multi-institution projects. Requests for amounts outside this range are not eligible for consideration. Be sure to verify that the figure entered in the Amount Requested field matches the figure listed in your budget documents.

For detailed information regarding allowable costs, see Appendix: Budget.

Provide the proposed project length, in whole months.

Provide the proposed project start and end dates.

All dates must be provided in the format MM/DD/YYYY (e.g. 03/01/2017). If you choose to use the calendar function rather than enter the dates manually, note that it starts in 2017 and will need to be advanced to the correct year as well as the correct month when you enter your dates. Months and years can be changed individually by clicking the “< “and “>” arrows on either side of the category.

  • Projects must begin between January 1 and June 1, 2018. All projects should start on the first of the given month (e.g. January 1), and end on the last day of the given month (e.g. November 30) when the project closes.
  • The minimum allowable project term is 12 months. At this time, CLIR does not provide funding for projects less than 12 months long.
  • Single-institution projects must be no more than 24 months long. All single-institution projects must be completed by May 31, 2020.
  • Multi-institution projects must be no more than 36 months long. All multi-institution projects must be completed by May 31, 2021.
  • Projects that do not fall within these guidelines are not eligible for consideration in this cycle.
  • Cost sharing is not required in this program. However, applicants are encouraged to note any financial or in-kind support provided by their institution in support of this project as part of their Budget Narrative.

A note regarding principal investigators:

An individual may not be named as a principal investigator (PI) on more than one proposal, and may not serve as PI on two funded projects simultaneously. Tick the box to confirm your acknowledgement of and compliance with this guideline.

Section 1: Project Summary

Cover Sheet.

All applicants are required to upload a cover sheet with their final proposals. The cover sheet provides you with a place to point reviewers to the sections in your final proposal where you’ve addressed questions or concerns they have may expressed in first round feedback. Click here to download the cover sheet template.

Applicant Institution (colloquial name).

Provide the name of the institution applying for the grant (e.g. Sample University, Campus). In the event this proposal is approved for funding, this institution will assume fiscal responsibility for the proposed project.

Applicant Institution (legal name).

Provide the full legal name of the institution (if other than above).

Collection/Project Title. Word limit: 50 words.

A good project title is brief and includes language suggesting the subject matter and/or format types of the source materials to be digitized. In some cases, the project title may be the name of the primary collection nominated for digitization. Titles of funded projects will be made available on CLIR’s website.

Project Summary. Word limit: 150 words.

Write a paragraph-length summary of the proposed project that mentions the length of the project, the names of participating institutions, the nature of the source materials to be digitized, major activities to be undertaken during the project, and the significance of the project for scholarship once completed.

Why we ask: This summary will be used for reference during review panel discussions. If the proposal is approved for funding, this summary will be posted on CLIR’s website and used in other publicity related to the Hidden Collections program. It will provide the basis for the project’s description on CLIR’s website in the Funded Projects section (see e.g. 2015 Funded Projects).

Collaborating institutions (if applicable).

If this is a collaborative project, include the names of the collaborating institutions below. Use the green add button to list additional partners as needed.

  • It is not necessary to provide addresses for collaborating institutions here – provide only the institution names. Should your project be recommended for funding, CLIR will request your collaborators’ relevant contact information at that time.

Collaboration Statement (required for all applicants proposing a collaborative project). Word limit: 250 words.

Identify the ways in which your proposed project constitutes a collaborative effort.  Explain how the collaboration advances the missions and meets the priorities of each of the institutions involved and enhances the capacity of the project to support the creation of new knowledge, and describe benefits of the project that would not be possible if the partners worked individually.

Why we ask: Decisions on whether or not a project qualifies as collaborative will be made by Digitizing Hidden Collections’ independent review panel, and this statement informs reviewers’ assessments. Proposed collaborations approved by the review panel will be considered for funding amounts up to $500,000, and project lengths up to 36 months. Proposed collaborations that are not approved by the review panel will only be considered for funding amounts up to $250,000 and project lengths up to 24 months, the amounts available to single institution projects. Note that vendors do not qualify as collaborating institutions, even if the vendor is a non-profit organization.

Quantities and Types of Original Materials to be Digitized during the Project.

Enter estimated quantities and select the units of measurement [boxes, cubic feet, items, linear feet, pages, recorded hours, volumes] and material types [books, serials, manuscripts, photographs, posters, ephemera, musical scores, maps, architectural drawings, audio recordings, audiovisual recordings, artworks, artifacts, specimens, mixed archival collections, other] that most specifically describe the extent of source materials that will be digitized during the project.

  • You can only select one measurement at a time. If your source materials are best described using a variety of measurements you can add additional measurements by clicking the green “add” button underneath the fields.
  • You may enter additional quantities, units, and material types as necessary, but any given portion of the nominated collections should be accounted for in only one category (i.e., an item that is included in your calculation for linear feet of mixed archival materials should not also be counted as an individual artifact).
  • If your project encompasses several collections, your figures should reflect the aggregate for each category. You will be given an opportunity to list individual collection titles, format quantities and sizes (and also related institutions, if applicable) in the List of Collections to be Digitized document in Section 3.
  • If the quantities provided are rough estimates rather than precise descriptions, explain the method used for estimating those quantities in the space provided for additional information (max. 100 words).
  • If quantities of “mixed archival collections” or “other” material types are provided, describe the format type(s) those quantities represent in the space provided for additional information.
  • For example, applicants may characterize their materials as follows: 1,000 linear feet of mixed archival collections; 80,000 items of photographs; 50,000 pages of manuscripts; 500 volumes of [bound] manuscripts; 3,750 recorded hours of audio recordings; 750 items [reels or titles] of audiovisual recordings.

Why we ask: Understanding the extent of source materials to be digitized is essential for reviewers to assess whether the proposed timeline is realistic and whether the proposed costs are reasonable. At the same time, CLIR advises reviewers to consider all factors and circumstances affecting the cost of a project in making their funding recommendations, not just amount requested per item.

Quantities, Formats, and Specifications of Digital Files to be Created during the Project.

Enter estimated quantities of uniquely described digital files to be created through digitization, as well as the relevant digital format(s) created and technical specifications for those formats (dpi, minimum pixel dimensions, bit-depth, optical density, etc.). If additional files are to be derived from those created in the digitization process for the purposes of backup, preservation and/or access, do not count these derivative files or formats in the totals entered; you may describe any derivative formats to be created and the purposes these will serve in the space provided for additional information.

  • For example, applicants may characterize their materials as follows: 80,000 image files in TIFF format at 600dpi (from which 80,000 image files in JPEG2000 at 300dpi will be derived for access); 750 audio files in .WAV format (from which 750 MP3 files will be derived for access). Reviewers typically expect applicants to adhere, at a minimum, to the technical specifications (e.g. resolution, bit depth, etc.) recommended by the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative for digitizing still images and film collections; information on digital reformatting for audio material can be found here. Applicants should identify which standards or guidelines (FADGI or an alternative) they are following in their Technical Plan.

Why we ask: Understanding the quantities of and specifications for the digital files that will be produced in the course of a proposed project is essential for reviewers to assess whether the proposed approach to digitization and digital preservation are appropriate and sustainable. At the same time, CLIR advises reviewers to consider all factors and circumstances affecting the cost of a project in making their funding recommendations, not just amount requested per digital file created.

List the name(s) and URL(s) of the catalogs/repositories/services through which the digitized files and/or associated metadata will be made available.

Provide names and complete URL(s) for all of the portals through which content digitized through the proposed project will be available to researchers and the general public.

  • Note that even if there are legal or other constraints that prevent allowing full access to content for the general public, CLIR requires that descriptive metadata for all digitized content be dedicated to the public domain under a CC0 Creative Commons license. Exceptions may be made for culturally-sensitive metadata.

Why we ask: Digitizing Hidden Collections is a program created to support the creation of digitized content that is as openly available and easily discoverable as possible. Applicants are expected to make digital collections discoverable through avenues such as DPLA or other portals that aggregate collections and/or metadata and connect disparate collections and are most likely to reach the greatest number of potential users.

Section 2: Description of Content: Public

**Note: All information provided on this tab will be made publicly available by CLIR.

Description of materials to be digitized. Word limit: 250 words.

Provide a brief narrative description of the source materials nominated for digitization, including their subject(s), provenance, relevant associated people, organizations, and events.

Geographic Scope. Word limit: 50 words.

Describe the range of geographic regions represented in the nominated collection(s). Do not describe the current or future location(s) of the original, physical materials.

Date range of materials to be digitized.

List your best estimate of the date range covered by the collection(s), in whole years. Dates should be formatted as YYYY BC/AD – YYYY BC/AD (e.g. 356 BC – 1542 AD).

  • Enter the earliest and latest dates the original materials in the nominated collection(s) were created, in whole years.
  • Dates should be formatted as YYYY BC/AD – YYYY BC/AD (e.g. 356 BC – 1542 AD).
  • Do not include historic dates that characterize the subject matter of the collection(s). For example, if a nominated collection is the personal papers of a nineteenth-century specialist who studied Greek archaeology of the fifth century BC, the age range would fall in the nineteenth century and not the fifth century BC.

Collection level descriptions.

If applicable, identify and provide the URL(s) for any collection-level descriptions currently available online. The existence of such descriptions is not a requirement for this award and there is no minimum level of description required before collections can be eligible for nomination for this program.

Why we ask: Reviewers will use these URL(s) to verify what descriptions are currently available online and may use them in their search for additional information about nominated materials in order to help them understand their scholarly significance. The URL(s) provided here will also appear in CLIR’s Hidden Collections Registry.

Section 3: Description of Content: Confidential

List of Collections to be Digitized. No page limit, max. 2MB, .pdf, .xls or .xlsx format only.

The list of collections to be digitized must follow the format found in this template. This document lists the nominated collections included in the project, the sizes of the collections, the holding institution(s), the formats of the collection material, and reusage rights for each collection. Documents that do not adhere to CLIR’s format will be removed from the application prior to review and may result in the application being rendered ineligible for review.

Current arrangement and description(s) of materials to be digitized. Word limit: 250 words.

Provide a brief narrative that summarizes the physical arrangement and the level(s) of processing, cataloging, or other descriptive work that has previously been done for the nominated collection(s). Include the date(s) this descriptive work took place and the standard(s) and/or current format(s) of the records that were created.

Why we ask: While there is no minimum level of description required before collections can be eligible for nomination for this program, the central purpose of the program is to support digitization, and review panelists will be instructed to make recommendations that concentrate the program’s investments in the most cost-effective and efficient approaches to exposing collections through digitization. Understanding the current arrangement and description of collections to be digitized is important for reviewers to assess applicants’ level of preparedness to make realistic project plans. CLIR will also encourage reviewers to assess whether applicants’ plans for creating metadata minimize duplication of previous efforts.

Current condition and housing of materials to be digitized and plans for their conservation and preservation. Word limit: 250 words.

Describe the current condition and housing of the source materials to be digitized, including the means through which this condition has been assessed.

  • Identify the individual or individuals responsible for this assessment and approximately when the assessment took place.
  • Describe the strategies to be employed for stabilization, conservation, and/or preservation of the materials, including the means through which this work will be supported and sustained long-term.
  • Explain the environmental provisions made for the long-term management of the source materials and the strategy for responding to requests for access to them.
  • **Note that no funds for conservation, stabilization, or preservation of physical materials are available through this grant program. This includes costs for re-housing or storage supplies. Similarly, no funds related to the conversion or migration of born-digital files are available. All such costs are the responsibility of the holding institutions.

Why we ask: Understanding the physical condition and housing of source materials to be digitized in a proposed project will help reviewers assess whether an applicant is prepared to take appropriate measures in the care and handling of those materials both during and after a project’s completion. Even though costs related to conservation, stabilization, or preservation are not fundable through this program, reviewers will nevertheless consider an applicant’s preparedness to support and sustain these activities over time as an indication of institutional investment in and commitment to the project.

Representative samples of materials to be digitized. Max. 10 pages, 12MB, .pdf format only.

Upload a PDF document containing images of up to ten (10) selected items from the collection(s) to be digitized. This document must be no more than ten pages in length, and it must be no more than 12MB in size. Each image should be accompanied by a description and full citation that includes the name of the holding institution, the collection title, any identification numbers or shelfmarks, and any available information about rights or licensing. The document may contain embedded URLs linking to additional content, such as sample audio or audiovisual files, but must contain samples of no more than ten items.

Why we ask: This presentation should give reviewers a clear impression of the source materials nominated for digitization, helping them to understand their current condition and future potential to support scholarship and teaching.

Description of representative samples. Word limit: 100 words.

Briefly describe the samples included in the file.

Why we ask: Reviewers and program administrators will use this description as a quick reference.

May CLIR excerpt from and display some portion of these representative samples within the Hidden Collections Registry, elsewhere on CLIR’s website, or in program-related social media?

Tick “yes” or “no,” indicating whether CLIR may display some portion of the provided samples within the Hidden Collections Registry, elsewhere on CLIR’s website, or in program social media. CLIR staff will cite the holding institution if a sample is used in one of these ways. Note that an applicant’s response to the question will be visible to CLIR staff only and will not affect the proposal’s assessment in the competition for funding in any way.

If some samples may be displayed and some may not, clarify which of the representative samples are permissible to display publicly. Word limit: 100 words.

Section 4: Rights, Ethics, and Re-Use

Tick to confirm:

  • All parties to this proposal understand that as a condition of acceptance of any Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives award from CLIR, all recipient institutions and collaborating partner organizations will be required to sign and execute the program’s intellectual property agreement.
  • All parties to this proposal understand that as a condition of acceptance of any Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives award from CLIR, all metadata and any software (if applicable) created in the course of funded project activities must be dedicated to the public domain under a CC0 Creative Commons license. Exceptions may be made for culturally sensitive metadata.
  • All parties to this proposal understand that as a condition of acceptance of any Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives award from CLIR, recipient institutions, including collaborating institutions in cases of multi-institution 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. Digital copies of materials that are in the public domain in their analog form must also be in the public domain. CLIR strongly encourages grant recipients to share digital copies as public domain resources and/or with Creative Commons licenses, as appropriate. Exceptions may be made for those materials in the public domain without the express wishes of local, traditional, and indigenous source communities.

Applicants who tick any of the boxes below must provide details clarifying their responses in the Rights, Ethics, and Re-Use Statement, strongly justifying their choices.

Tick any that apply:

  • Applicant and/or partner institutions plan to incorporate watermarks into access copies of the digital files created through this project.
  • Applicant and/or partner institutions plan to charge fees for commercial re-use of the digital copies created through this project.
  • Applicant and/or partner institutions plan to charge fees for non-commercial re-use of the digital copies created through this project.
  • Applicant and/or partner institutions plan to impose specific attribution requirements when digital copies created through this project are re-used by others.
  • Some of the content within the collections nominated for digitization contains private or other potentially sensitive information that poses legal or ethical concerns related to providing access to the digital copies created through this project.

Note that applicants planning to use watermarks or charge fees for the use of digital materials created through this program, particularly for non-commercial re-use, are less likely to be competitive for funding.

Rights, Ethics, and Re-Use Statement. Max. 4 pages, plus optional appendix, 5MB, .pdf format only.

Upload a description of up to four pages that:

  • Summarizes all known rights, embargoes, and access or legal restrictions applicable to the source materials to be digitized and describes how these rights, embargoes, or restrictions will be communicated to the public (such as employing the standardized statements offered by RightsStatements.org);
  • Identifies and explains any ethical considerations that affect circulation of, access to or re-use of the digital copies;
  • Explains the basis upon which the proposed activities are justifiably legal and ethical;
  • Explains the specific terms under which users of the collections will be able to access and re-use the digital copies created through the project;
  • Explains and justifies any institutional watermarks incorporated into copies made accessible to users and any fees charged for re-use; and
  • Describes any other measures to be taken to restrict access to or re-use of the digital copies in order to comply with the law or with applicable, pre-existing agreements or contracts, or to uphold ethical and moral claims and rights of individuals or communities.

This statement should not be a “boilerplate” institutional policy or template, but should be tailored to this project and to the requirements above. Applicants may include copies of institutional policies, deeds of gift, or other additional documents in this section as an optional appendix. This appendix must be combined into the same PDF as the statement, led by a cover sheet identifying each additional document.

Why we ask: This statement will allow reviewers to assess how well applicants understand the legal and ethical issues pertaining to their collections and how well prepared they are to sign the required agreements. This statement also helps reviewers assess the degree to which a proposal reflects to the program’s commitment to supporting open, free, unrestricted ethical and culturally sensitive access to digitized scholarly content.

Section 5: Value and National Significance

Describe the impact of the proposed project upon scholarship, and explain why digitization is the most appropriate means to maximize the value and significance of the materials to scholars and students. Word limit: 500 words.

This part of the proposal should address the importance of the collections to teaching, research, and the creation of new knowledge and not merely provide a more detailed description of the materials than is given elsewhere in the application. In other words, this statement should go beyond asserting the significance of the subjects covered in the original materials and instead explain how a scholar’s understanding of those subjects could be transformed by using digitized versions of those materials specifically.

Why we ask: Scholarly significance is the primary criterion upon which applications to this program are assessed. CLIR instructs reviewers to prioritize projects that expose collections that are of high importance to a variety of disciplines, as well as collections that, when digitized, create opportunities for scholars to employ computational tools and methods to advance and/or transform the practices of scholarship and teaching in those disciplines. Applicants should demonstrate that digitization of the proposed material is likely to have a national or international impact on scholarship in related fields, even if the content is focused on a specific region or context.

Upload three letters of scholarly support for your project. Max. 10 MB, .pdf format only.
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. Please note that CLIR accepts only three letters of scholarly support per project; any additional letters submitted will be removed from the application prior to review.

Section 6: Project Context and Impact

List and describe all envisioned project deliverables. Explain the means through which each will be available to the public, and any applicable conditions or terms affecting their availability. Word limit: 500 words.

Applicants should describe all expected outcomes, how each will be made accessible to others, and under what conditions.

  • Deliverables include the digital surrogates created during the project and related metadata, and they may also include aggregations of those files and metadata with related files and metadata already available online. Metadata created through this program is not restricted to any particular standard or structure. Other possible deliverables include authority files, description and digitization manuals, training materials, research guides, or other outcomes.
  • If any special measures are being taken to improve accessibility for specific user communities (e.g. visually or hearing impaired; users with limited internet access; foreign language speakers, etc.), include them here.

Why we ask: Reviewers will use this list of deliverables for reference in their assessments of the proposed project plan and timeline, the qualifications of project participants to produce these deliverables according to that plan and timeline, and the overall potential impact of the project. If funded, this list of deliverables may be used by CLIR in evaluations of project reports and in assessments of the overall success of the project. Note that special measures to increase accessibility for specific user communities are not a requirement of this program, but may be viewed favorably by reviewers if the proposal identifies a target user population with particular access needs.

Describe any planned outreach and community engagement activities. Word limit: 250 words.

Identify the communities most likely to be interested or invested in the digitization of the proposed material. Describe how you plan to engage them and detail specific outreach approaches for different user groups. Consider the potential impact of the project on scholarly, local, professional, and other related communities of interest.

Why we ask: Reviewers look for outreach strategies that demonstrate an awareness of the full range of potential beneficiaries of a project, that show a creative and opportunistic approach to raising the project’s profile, and that include occasions to solicit constructive feedback on project outputs. Reaching out to the public through routine institutional activities such as newsletters or announcements lists is generally considered insufficient.

Describe collections related to the materials nominated for digitization and describe plans for creating meaningful linkages to those collections. Word limit: 250 words.

Applicants should be as specific as possible in describing these related collections, particularly those held at institutions not participating directly in the project. The nature of the relationship between
 the collections described here and the collections nominated for digitization should be made explicit. Mention any meaningful linkages that will be created through aggregating related metadata for search and discovery (using registries, databases, or other well-known research portals), adopting common standards, protocols and/or controlled vocabularies, or promoting the joint use of the related collections directly to scholars and students.

Why we ask: Among the key priorities of this program are to promote comprehensive coverage of significant fields of interest through digitized cultural heritage, and to maximize linkages between related collections. In their evaluation, reviewers will use applicants’ responses in this section to assess applicants’ awareness of the wider context within which their collections are situated and their strategies for presenting their collections in that context. In keeping with program’s core value of Connectedness, reviewers will be more inclined to support projects that make digitized sources and their metadata easily discoverable and accessible alongside related materials, especially through aggregation and large-scale discovery portals such as DPLA.

Describe any future scholarly initiatives that would be made possible by the completion of project work. Word limit: 250 words.

Such initiatives may be those planned by the applicant institution or consortium or those that other individuals or organizations might launch as a result of the project. Examples may include but are not limited to research and assessment projects, digital scholarship, new forms of computationally intensive research, digital exhibits, and new online teaching and learning initiatives.

Why we ask: Reviewers consider responses to this question as they assess the overall potential impact of the project, as well as how the project aligns with the long-term goals for the applicant organization(s).

Section 7: Project Design

Project planning resources available via DLF Digitizing Special Formats Wiki.

Explain the rationale behind the project’s design. Describe prior research and/or experiences that have directly informed this design. Note any innovations or practices that will make the proposed approach particularly efficient, ground-breaking, and/or cost-effective. Word limit: 500 words.

CLIR expects that this program will support innovative and increasingly efficient methods of digitizing and disseminating information about cultural heritage materials to scholars and the broader public. All applicants should demonstrate an understanding of how their proposed approach to digitization fits into current understandings of best professional practice and, if applicable, may propose unique improvements to this practice.

Why we ask: Understanding applicants’ levels of experience and familiarity with current professional standards and practices and with the use of digitized collections by scholars is critical to reviewers’ assessments of the qualifications of the applicants for undertaking project work.

Upload a project plan that includes all major project activities and deliverables, including a project timeline with deliverable deadlines. Max. 3 pages, 2MB, .pdf format only.

The timeline for the project should be as explicit as possible.

  • The plan should identify major activities to be undertaken during each quarter of the proposed grant term and name the parties who will participate in those activities.
  • The plan may include tables, diagrams, images, references, etc. at the applicant’s discretion, but may not exceed the three-page limit.
  • To insure clarity for reviewers, the language used to describe project activities and deliverables should be the same as that used elsewhere in the proposal, such as in the list of project deliverables or in the technical plan.

Technical Plan. Max. 4 pages, 5MB, .pdf format only.

This document should explain how the equipment, technologies, standards, specifications, and methodologies to be employed for the project relate to one another in a step-by-step workflow that will result in the project’s major deliverables.

  • It is highly recommended that this document include at least one “mock-up” image that gives reviewers a clear idea of the context within which newly created digital files will be presented online, including examples of all descriptive information or metadata to be created and associated with those files. Any metadata or content that will be restricted in some way should be clearly marked.
  • After outlining the proposed workflow in detail, applicants should briefly explain how the proposed methods and tools relate to current practice at their institution or in their community, mentioning any particularly innovative features of their approach within this context.
  • Describe the proposed approach for quality control of the project deliverables.
  • Applicants must explain the standards or technologies to be employed and explain why these best suit their project. Any deviations from the selected standards should be explained and justified. Applicants might find information from the Digitizing Special Formats wiki, which is curated by CLIR’s Digital Library Federation (DLF) program, helpful in planning project proposals.
  • For technical specifications (e.g. resolution, bit depth, etc.), reviewers typically expect applicants to adhere, at a minimum, to the recommendations by the Federal Agencies Digitization Guidelines Initiative (FADGI), unless an alternate standard is proposed. See FADGI guides for digitizing still images and film collections; information on digital reformatting for audio material can be found here.

Why we ask: Reviewers look to the technical approach document for evidence of applicants’ preparedness to undertake project work thoroughly, efficiently, and through the most cost-effective means possible, without compromising quality control measures or assessment and outreach activities described elsewhere in the proposal. Reviewers also use this document to assess applicants’ understanding of current standards and best practices for digitization of special formats held in cultural institutions.

Principal Investigator(s)/primary staff. Word limit: 250 words.

In this section, summarize the relevant qualifications of up to three individuals who will be responsible for the deliverables named in the proposal, or other work specified in the project or technical plans.

  • The qualifications of all named Principal Investigators (PIs) must be included here.
  • If the project includes fewer than three PIs, applicants may optionally use this space to describe other important staff members.
  • If any of the three individuals included in this section has not yet been identified, applicants should explain the nature of the qualifications required of a candidate for that role in the project.
  • Individuals may not be named as PI on more than one proposal and may not serve as PI on two funded projects simultaneously.

Why we ask: Reviewers consider the experience of Principal Investigators and other major contributors to a project to be essential components of the applicants’ capacity to complete a successful project. They will look to this section for clear and concisely articulated reasons why individuals chosen to participate in this project are uniquely suited to undertake the specific responsibilities they will hold for project work. If one of the three individuals included in this section has not yet been identified, reviewers will look to this section for evidence that applicants are properly prepared to hire a qualified candidate.

Upload resumes/CVs for these individuals below. Resumes are required for all Principal Investigators named on the project. No page limit, max. 2 MB, .pdf, .doc or .docx format only.

  • Although a project may have more than three assigned persons, no more than three resumes may be uploaded. Only include resumes for the primary personnel on the project.
  • If a project does not have three listed Principal Investigators, any remaining slots may be used to upload resumes of other key personnel.
  • In cases where key personnel have not yet been identified, a job description may be provided instead.
  • All proposals must adhere to the limit of three resumes, including those for large multi-institution or consortial initiatives.

Why we ask: Reviewers will seek to verify any claims applicants make in their descriptions of the qualifications of individuals named above with evidence of relevant prior experience in these resumes. If a job description is provided for an unnamed individual, reviewers will consider whether applicants have realistic expectations about what they can attract and require in their given timeframe, salary range and geographic location(s).

How many staff will be assigned to this project? Word limit: 75 words.

You may include students and volunteers in this list. List the number of applicable staff that will be assigned to the project and briefly describe their roles (e.g. professional, graduate student, etc.), noting how many are full- and how many are part-time staff. For the purposes of this question, “full time” refers to those individuals who will be spending 75% or more of a full-time (37.5+ hours/week) position devoted to the project. “Part time” refers to those individuals who will be spending less than 75% of a full-time (37.5+ hours/week) position on the project.

An individual who regularly works only 20 hours/week, but will spend all 20 hours devoted to this project, should be described as “part time,” as should an individual who regularly works a 40 hour week but will spend 20 hours/week devoted to this project.

Applicants will be given the opportunity to indicate the percentages of staff members’ time which will be dedicated to this project in the Budget Detail section that follows.

Why we ask: Reviewers will consider the numbers supplied in this section in their assessments of whether the project team is both manageable and of an appropriate size given the demands of the proposed work.

Will special skills or training be required? Word limit: 250 words.

Explain the nature of any required skills or training to undertake the project and how the applicant institution intends to solicit or provide it.

Why we ask: Reviewers consider whether the approach to recruitment or training proposed for the project seems appropriate given the institutional context, staffing plan, timeline, and workflow outlined elsewhere in the proposal.

Section 8: Sustainability

Digital Preservation and Discoverability Plan. Max. 2 pages, 2MB, .pdf format only.

Upload a digital preservation and discoverability plan explaining how project deliverables will be made secure and discoverable for the long term.

  • The digital preservation and discoverability plan should identify where digital files created through this project will be stored, how they will be backed up, and the steps the applicant will take to insure that the files and metadata are checked regularly for continued integrity (i.e., lack of corruption, loss and/or errors) and monitored for possible future migration
  • This plan should identify clearly the parties accepting responsibility for sustaining those preservation activities after the conclusion of the project; the basic terms under which they would provide such services; and the qualifications of the parties to provide them. Should any such activities be outsourced, applicants can upload the relevant subcontracts (or proposals/requests for proposals, as appropriate) on the Funding tab.
  • The plan should describe actions to be taken in the event technical or other circumstances require the migration of project files and metadata from one system to another.
  • The plan should also explain how digital files, their associated metadata, and any software developed through the project will be made easily discoverable and accessible to relevant user communities for the long term. It should justify why these platforms are appropriate given the subject matter and/or users of the source materials to be digitized. This explanation should include any measures to be taken to maintain, update, aggregate and publish project metadata for external harvesting.
  • If access to digital copies created through the project will be restricted or controlled in some way, the digital preservation and discoverability plan should explain how these access policies will be re-assessed and adjusted in the future. Applicants may choose to cite or briefly mention plans detailed elsewhere in the proposal rather than repeating such information.

Why we ask: One of this program’s key priorities is the promotion of sustainable practices for creating and maintaining access to digitized special collections and archives. Recent research suggests that high proportions of digital files in online repositories become less accessible and discoverable over time due to the failure to migrate and maintain those files in robust systems that remain compatible with up-to-date search, discovery, and retrieval protocols. For more details on the motivation behind this aspect of the program, see “How do we Ensure Digitized Collections Remain Discoverable?”, CLIR Issues 99: https://www.clir.org/pubs/issues/issues99/issues99 – digcoll.

Section 9: Institutional Capacity

Letter of institutional support. Max. 10MB, .pdf format only.
Upload a letter of support from the head administrator of the applicant institution; applicants proposing collaborative projects are required to submit additional letters of support from head administrators at each partnering institution. The letter(s) should express the institution’s commitment to undertake the proposed project and explain how it advances the institution’s mission. 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.

Institutional Priorities. Word limit: 250  words.

Describe the applicant’s institutional priorities for digitization, digital collection development, maximizing access, and supporting scholarship, learning, and/or the public good, as well as those of any collaborating institution(s). Explain the relationship of the proposed project to those priorities. Applicants may mention or cite relevant details given elsewhere in the proposal and supporting documentation but need not repeat those details in their entirety. The purpose of this section is to provide space for additional evidence of the applicants’ motivation to undertake the proposed project and sustain its outcomes beyond the project term.

Why we ask: CLIR’s review panel prioritizes funding projects that align well with both applicants’ and partners’ institutional priorities, especially those formalized in institutional strategic agendas, collection development policies, or other relevant institutional plans. This alignment increases the chances that a funded project would succeed and retain the support of institutional leaders beyond the term of a grant.

Diversity and Inclusion. Word limit: 250  words.

Describe your project team’s approach to diversity and inclusion. How will the proposed project help to broaden representation within and access to your collections? In what ways will you encourage the participation of people with diverse perspectives in your project activities, and how will these efforts be supported by the applicant institution(s)? If applicable, include examples of how past experiences have informed the project team’s approach to diversity and inclusion.

Why we ask: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, CLIR and the Digitizing Hidden Collections review panel are committed to supporting inclusive values and initiatives that broaden representation and access. It is helpful for reviewers to understand how the project team is thinking about these issues, how the project staff will promote diversity and inclusivity within the context of the proposed initiative, and what support can be expected from the participating institution(s) for this work.

Institutional Strengths. Word limit: 500 words.

Describe the institutional strengths that justify the undertaking of the proposed project by the applicant and any collaborating institutions. Strengths may include existing infrastructure, partnerships, professional associations, staff experience, access to local expertise (scholars, volunteers, students), financial or other resources, etc. Applicants may mention or cite relevant circumstances that are described in greater detail elsewhere in the proposal but need not repeat those details in their entirety.

Why we ask: The purpose of this section is to provide space for additional evidence of the applicants’ preparation for and suitability to undertake the proposed project. Applicants may describe any circumstances or resources that make the proposed project both timely and likely to succeed that have not already been mentioned elsewhere in the proposal.

Prior Initiatives. Word limit: 100 words each.

Provide up to three examples of prior initiatives that demonstrate preparedness of the institution(s) to undertake project work. If you have more than three examples to share, select those you feel are most relevant to this particular project.

  • Examples of successful collaboration, or examples that demonstrate a level of engagement with broader professional and academic communities are particularly welcome, and strongly recommended for applicants proposing collaborative projects.

Why we ask: This information is useful to reviewers in their assessment of an applicant’s depth of relevant experience. Examples of prior collaboration are of interest because one of the priorities of this grant program is to promote inter-institutional collaboration and resource sharing, particularly strategies that have proven cost-effective, efficient, and useful models for others.

Building Capacity. Word limit: 250 words.

Describe how this project contributes to building local institutional capacity, as well as the professional development of all staff involved.

Why we ask: The purpose of this space is to reflect on the long-term impact of the project locally, recognizing the importance of professional development for all project staff, including permanent staff, short-term staff, student workers, and volunteers, as applicable.

Section 10: Funding

Budget Documents

CLIR requires all applicants to complete and upload two budget documents, a Budget Narrative and a Budget Detail.

Budget Narrative. No page limit, max. 2MB, .pdf format only.

The Budget Narrative must describe and justify the cost assumptions for each category and line item in the Budget Detail. The Narrative should include the following six sections, as applicable to your project.

  • Line items: Explain the need for each budget line and the method(s) used to compute the projected costs.
  • Digitization costs: Explain how you have arrived at your cost estimates for in-house digitization and metadata creation, including a description and justification for the calculation(s) used. Your explanation must include per-item digitization and metadata creation cost estimates for each type of material to be digitized through the grant.
  • Vendors: If the digitization work is being outsourced, include the vendors being considered and describe and justify the associated costs. See CLIR’s Guidelines for grants involving consultants or subcontractors (.pdf) for more information. Note that formal vendor quotes are not required until the second round of the application cycle.
  • Grant management: Briefly explain how the applicant institution would manage the grant funds if awarded.
  • Cost share: Describe the direct contributions to be made by the applicant (and partnering) institutions to the project, e.g. staff time, the purchase of equipment and supplies for which grant funds are not being requested, etc. Cost share is not required in this program, but applicants are advised that reviewers consider cost sharing as one indicator of institutional support when evaluating the proposal. If your institution prohibits including a cost share in a proposal, applicants should specifically note this. *NOTE: CLIR does not fund indirect costs, and indirect costs should not be included as part of an applicant’s cost share. To see CLIR’s indirect cost policy, click here.
  • Private foundations (if applicable): Applicants whose organizations are private foundations must include a section in the budget narrative addressing their institutional need for external funding support through this program. The rationale should identify the major funding sources of the organization and state the reasons the activities described in the proposal cannot be supported from these sources.

You may also include additional narrative sections related to your budget as necessary to provide the reviewers with appropriate context.

Budget Detail. Must follow CLIR’s template; max. 2MB, .xlsm format only.

Provide a detailed budget broken out by year. The Budget Detail must be submitted using CLIR’s budget form (.xlsm). Should the proposal be selected for funding, this budget will also be used to report financials in the project’s interim and/or final reports to CLIR.

  • If this is a collaborative project, funds will be disbursed to the applicant institution. CLIR will not disburse funds for one award to several institutions. The submitted budget should aggregate the total funds requested.
  • For more detailed information about the budget, refer to the Appendix: Budget section below.

Subcontracts (if applicable). No page limit, max. 10MB, .pdf format only.
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. Quotes should also include relevant digitization specifications, such as file formats produced (e.g. TIFF; JPEG 2000) and resolution (e.g. ppi; bit depth). Additional information on technical specifications for digitization can be found in the FADGI Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials. See CLIR’s Guidelines for grants involving consultants or subcontractors (.pdf) for more information on vendor quotes.

 

Section 11: Applicant Information

Applicant Institution Address.

Proof of Nonprofit Status. No page limit, max. 2MB, .pdf format only.

All applicants, including collaborating institutions, must provide proof of their non-profit status. This document must include the applicant institution’s legal name and Employer Identification Number (EIN; this number is also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number).

All applicant institutions must provide a copy of their IRS determination letter, with the exceptions of universities and government units. Universities may provide their EIN in lieu of an IRS letter. Government units may submit a copy of their charter or the legislative act that established their unit.

Board/Trustee List. Must be on letterhead, max. 2MB, .pdf format only.

Upload a current list of board or trustee members for the applicant institution. The list must be on the applicant institution’s letterhead.

  • This is not required for colleges/universities or government units. It is required for all other applicants.
  • For collaborative projects, each institution must provide this information; multiple lists should be merged into one PDF for upload.

Contact Information for Principal Investigator(s)

Provide the contact information for the proposed project’s primary Principal Investigator(s) (PIs). The PI(s) will take direct responsibility for completion of the project, should funds be awarded. He or she must be significantly involved with the project’s direction and execution and will be responsible for submitting required narrative and financial reports to CLIR.

  • The primary Principal Investigator, to be listed first, is the person who will take direct responsibility for completion of the project, should funds be awarded. He or she should be significantly involved with the project’s direction and execution and will be responsible for submitting required narrative and financial reports to CLIR and for all other project-related communications with CLIR. Normally the primary Principal Investigator is formally affiliated with the Applicant Institution.
  • Applicants may propose up to three PIs for their project. All applicants must assign at least one PI.

Application Contact.

If CLIR’s point of contact during the application period should be someone other than the proposed Principal Investigator(s) (e.g. a grants administrator or project manager), enter the name and contact information for the relevant individual here.

  • If an Application Contact is designated, CLIR will address any questions related to a submitted application to this person.
  • Should a proposal be approved for funding, CLIR will address any subsequent questions related to a funded project to the primary Principal Investigator.
  • An email address provided for the primary Principal Investigator or the Application Contact can be the same as the email address used to log into the online application system, but does not have to be. However, any automated system messages such as those sent upon submission of the application will be sent to the email address used to log into the system.

Section 12: Review

The Review tab provides an overview of all the information you have entered into the application, including filenames of documents you have uploaded. It is possible to enter or change information in your application from the Review tab. If you do so, be sure to click “Save Draft” at the bottom of the page before moving to any other section of the application or your changes will be lost.

Your application must be submitted from the Review tab, where you will find a “Submit” button at the bottom of the page. This button is not available on any of the other tabs.

Appendix: Budget

Applicants may request funds for the following expenses:

  • Salaries/wages and applicable fringe benefits for staff members who will be specifically dedicated to the project. If applicants request funds for permanent staff salaries, they must explain in the Budget Narrative why grant funds are needed and how the staff member’s normal duties will be covered during the time they are working on the project.
  • Consultant and/or training fees related to the project.
  • A maximum of $10,000 toward administrative support for personnel who are not directly affiliated with the project, but contribute to its overall coordination or implementation (ex: accountants). This administrative support may only be requested by multiple-institution projects. Grant or development office staff do not qualify for these funds.
  • Equipment and tools necessary for digitization and the production of metadata, including dedicated software and hardware (e.g. storage media). Items in this category should be one-time purchases. Equipment requests are limited to a maximum of $7,500 total for single institution projects or $12,500 total for collaborative projects; applicants may request partial funding for items and contribute the remaining funds as part of their cost share as desired.
  • Other services (e.g. equipment rental, server time, backup charges) related to project objectives.
  • Funds for travel that is essential to carry out the proposed project
  • Conference registration and related travel. Applicants should explain how attendance at a given conference is related to scholarly outreach and should be planning to attend as presenters rather than attendees. The maximum amount an applicant may request for conference registration and travel is $5,000, unless the proposal is an international collaboration between an institution in the United States and a Canadian institution. The maximum request for such a collaboration is $10,000.

Requests for the following are not allowed. Proposals which include a request for funds for these items may be rejected as ineligible for review:

  • Indirect costs.
  • Indirect costs listed as direct costs. This includes items such as network charges, telephone, photocopying, etc.
  • General-purpose items which may reasonably be expected to have a useful life after the project, such as office furniture, shelving, or archival cabinets.
  • Conservation/preservation costs, such as those related to rehousing materials. Such costs should be assumed by the institution and no funds may be requested for them.
  • Tuition remission for student employees.

BUDGET DETAIL

The budget detail will be used both for the proposal budget and for interim and final financial reports on approved grants. Further details about expenses, including underlying assumptions used to calculate budget expenses should be provided in the Budget Narrative. All budget figures should be calculated and provided in whole U.S. dollars, as this is the currency in which grant funds will be distributed.

General instructions for the Budget Detail

  • A) Download and open the Budget Detail Excel template provided by CLIR. If a security icon or popup window appears when opening the spreadsheet, click “Enable Editing,” “Enable Content,” “Enable Macros,” “Options,” or equivalent to enable the template’s macros.
  • B) The spreadsheet should open to an introduction page, where you can select the proposed project’s duration from a dropdown menu. (Note that project duration should be rounded up to the nearest year. For instance, a project that is 25 months long should be listed as a three year project, rather than a two year project on the budget form.) Once the project duration has been selected, click on the blue button that says “Create Budget Template.”
  • C) A spreadsheet should open, where you can input the budget information for your project. Each field in the sheet will have a small red number next to it. If you hover your cursor over a number, instructions for the corresponding field should appear in a pop-up box next to it. These instructions can also be found on the Instructions sheet in the Excel workbook. Take a moment to orient yourself with the template.
  • D) Enter your project’s information for fields 1-5, referring to instructions on the template if necessary.
  • E) Skip fields 6-7, which are only applicable if your project is selected for funding.
  • F) In field 8, enter the date range for each reporting period for the proposed project. Reporting Period I should start with the grant start date; the final Reporting Period should end with the grant end date.  Reporting periods should each be one year long, although the length of the last reporting period may vary. For example, for a 26-month project that starts on January 1, 2018 and ends on February 29, 2020, the reporting periods would be as follows: Reporting Period 1: 01/01/2018-12/31/2018 (12 months); Reporting Period 2: 01/01/2019-12/31/2020 (12 months); Reporting Period 3: 01/01/2020-02/29/2020 (2 months).
  • G) Skip ahead to field number 11. Enter the project’s expenses by line item in the “Expenses” column. The cost of each line item should be added to the “budgeted” column of the corresponding reporting period. Leave the “actual” column blank, since it is only applicable for projects that have been selected for funding. Expenses should be calculated in full dollars. Additional information on entering line items can be found below.
  • H) In field 10, assign a budget category to each expense you have itemized from the preset options (Salaries/Wages, Fringe benefits, Consultant/training fees, Supplies/materials, Services, Other costs). To assign a category, click on the cell where you’d like to insert the information and a drop-down arrow should appear on the right side of that cell. Click on the arrow to view the available categories, and select the appropriate option from that list. As you do this, the box on the top right corner of the page called “Summary of Expenses by Category” should automatically populate.
  • I) Skip Field 12 (no signature is required).
  • J) The budget totals should automatically calculate in the vertical grey box on the right-hand side of the sheet.
  • K) Save document and upload it in the application form.

Entering line items in the “Expenses Column”

Salaries and wages: Provide the names and titles of the principal project personnel. For support staff, include the title of each position and indicate the number of persons who will be employed in that capacity. Additional details such as percentage of salary covered by the grant or or amount of time spent on the project in each reporting period should be included in the Budget Narrative, or in line on the spreadsheet, space allowing.

Fringe benefits: If more than one rate is used, list each rate and aggregated salary base individually. Additional details can be provided in the Budget Narrative.

Consultant and training fees: Include payments for professional or technical consultants. Provide the name or type, as appropriate, of any consultants or training services which will be used. Details such as the number of consultants, days of training, and computation method (e.g. “2 days @ $500/day”) can be included in the Budget Narrative, or in the spreadsheet, space allowing.

Equipment:  Provide an item description for all consumable supplies, materials to be used in the project, dedicated software and expendable equipment. Details on the method of computation (e.g. “6 widgets @ $30/widget”) can be included in the Budget Narrative, or on the spreadsheet, space allowing.

Services: Services (e.g. server time, backup charges) related to project objectives that are not included under other budget categories. Subcontracts with vendors should be included in this category.

Other costs: Include any items not previously listed. “Miscellaneous” and “contingency” are not acceptable budget categories. Funds may not be requested for indirect costs.

For additional information, contact CLIR at hiddencollections@clir.org. During the application period, CLIR accepts inquiries by email only —no phone calls, please.