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Council on Library and Information Resources: Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives

Deadline: April 3, 2018

In keeping with the Council on Library and Information Resources’s (CLIR’s) aim to promote positive changes in practice that contribute to new knowledge, the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives (Digitizing Hidden Collections) program supports digitization activities that facilitate complete access to rare cultural artifacts online. The program’s focus is the creation of digital representations of unique content of high scholarly and community 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.

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

Additional notes:

  • Special collections are defined as 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 Archives are unique, often unpublished, materials associated with a specific individual, topic, location, or organization that is of interest to researchers.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.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate 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.

Amount: A total of up to $4,000,000 is available. Grant awards for single-institution applicants range from $50,000-$250,000, while the project period ranges from one to two years. Grants awarded to collaborative, multi-institution applications (partnerships/consortia) range from: $50,000-$500,000, while the project period ranges from one to three years.

Eligibility: Generally, 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; 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 Indian tribes, Alaska native villages, regional corporations, and village corporations. Applicants must be located in the United States or in an associated entity, e.g., the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or American Samoa. The Council also accepts proposals for collaborative projects that include partnerships between U.S. and Canadian institutions.

Link: https://www.clir.org/hiddencollections/

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