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Institute for Museum & Library Services: National Leadership Grants for Libraries

Deadline: September 1, 2017

National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG) support projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance theory and practice in those fields. Successful proposals will generate results such as new tools, research findings, models, services, practices, or alliances that can be widely used, adapted, scaled, or replicated to extend the benefits of federal investment. The funding categories through which applicants may apply are:

  • Sparks Grants: Sparks grants are small grants for rapid prototyping and evaluating of specific innovations in the ways libraries operate and the services librarians provide resulting in new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. Applicants may propose activities or approaches that involve risk, but the project results – be they success, failure, or a combination thereof – must offer valuable information or insight to the library or archives fields, promise an impact beyond the applicant’s institution and provide the potential for improvement in the ways libraries and archives serve their communities. Findings about new processes are as valuable as new tools and services. Sparks Grants are for periods of one year only.
  • Planning Grants: Planning grants allow project teams to perform preliminary planning activities, such as analyzing needs and feasibility, solidifying partnerships, developing project work plans, or developing prototypes, proofs of concept, and pilot studies. Assessing the outcomes of planning activities should be appropriate to this early stage of work. These activities should have the potential to lead to a full project, such as those described in Project Grants below. Planning Grants are for periods of one year only.
  • National Forum Grants: These grants provide the opportunity to convene qualified groups of experts and key stakeholders, including those from adjacent fields as appropriate, to consider issues or challenges that are important to libraries or archives across the nation. National Forum grant recipients are expected to produce reports for wide dissemination with expert opinions for action or research that address key challenge(s) identified in the proposal. Additional mechanisms for engaging stakeholders and building awareness of the findings are encouraged. National Forum Grants are for periods of one to two years.
  • Project Grants: Project grants support fully developed projects for which needs assessments, partnership development, feasibility analyses, prototyping, and other planning activities have been completed. Given the national focus of the project, it is essential that projects have clear potential for significant national impact, involve partners from multiple parts of the country, and realistically address growth and sustainability. Assessing scalability or further evolution of an earlier phase of work could be common attributes of this type of grant. Projects may scale or further evolve an earlier phase of work, but should not simply sustain an existing project. Project Grants are for periods of one to three years.
  • Research Grants: Research grants involve the investigation of key questions important to library or archival practice. Basic and applied research projects should build upon prior empirical or theoretical work in libraries and archives or other fields, such as anthropology, learning sciences, sociology, etc., as appropriate. Research proposals should include clearly articulated research questions; feature data collection and analysis methods that help the project team answer their questions; and include dissemination strategies that allow the research team to share broadly the research findings and implications of the findings for libraries and archives. Research Grants are for periods of one to three years.

In addition to funding categories, applications must fall within one of the following project categories:

  • Community Anchors: Projects that advance the role of libraries as community anchors that provide civic and cultural engagement, facilitate lifelong learning, promote digital inclusion, and support economic vitality through programming and services. The benefits of projects and programs must not be limited to the local community but also advance national practice.
  • National Digital Platform: Projects that create, develop, and expand the open source software applications used by libraries and archives to provide digital content and services to all users in the United States.
  • Curating Collections: Projects that can have a significant national impact on shared services for the preservation and management of digital library collections and content across the country. Projects focused on preserving or providing access to a particular collection or set of collections cannot be supported. Similarly, the program cannot support the digitization of content or pre-digitization activities such as inventorying collections.

Amount: A total of $5,700,000 will be awarded to 12 organizations as follows:

  • Sparks Grants: up to $25,000
  • Planning Grants: up to $50,000
  • National Forum Grants: up to $100,000
  • Project and Research Grants: up to $2,000,000

Eligibility: A unit of state or local government or a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code and qualify as one of the following:

  • a library or a parent organization, such as a school district, a municipality, a State agency, or an academic institution, that is responsible for the administration of a library
  • a private library or other special library, but only if the State in which it is located determines that the library should be considered a library for purposes of Library Services and Technology
  • an academic or administrative unit, such as a graduate school of library and information science that is part of an institution of higher education through which it would make application
  • a digital library, if it makes library materials publicly available and provides library services, including selection, organization, description, reference, and preservation, under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian
  • a library agency that is an official agency of a state or other unit of government and is charged by the law governing it with the extension and development of public library services within its jurisdiction
  • a library consortium that is a local, statewide, regional, interstate, or international cooperative association of library entities that provides for the systematic coordination of the resources of eligible libraries and information centers that work to improve the services delivered to the clientele of these libraries
  • a library association that exists on a permanent basis; serves libraries or library professionals on a national, regional, State, or local level; and engages in activities designed to advance the well-being of libraries and the library profession

Link: https://www.imls.gov/nofo/national-leadership-grants-libraries-fy17-2-notice-funding-opportunity

Note: The September 1 deadline is for preliminary proposals (required). Invited proposals will be due January 16, 2018.

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