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Institute of Museum and Library Services: Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries

Deadline: February 2, 2015

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries (Sparks Grants) are a special funding opportunity within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. These small grants encourage libraries and archives to prototype and evaluate specific innovations in the ways they operate and the services they 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 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.

Successful Sparks projects will demonstrate:

  • Broad Impact: Potential for far-reaching impact beyond the applicant institution, and influence practice across one or more disciplines or specific fields within the museum profession.
  • In-depth Knowledge: A thorough understanding of current practice and knowledge about the subject matter and an awareness and support of current strategic initiatives and agendas in the field.
  • Innovative Approach: New approaches to strengthen and improve services to benefit the audiences and communities being served.
  • Shared Results: Results that can be widely used, adapted, scaled, or replicated to leverage the benefits of federal investment. Grantees are required to submit a short white paper to be publicly posted and shared with the field.

Amount: Grants will range from $10,000-$25,000.

Eligibility: Applicants must be either a unit of State or local government or be a private nonprofit organization that has tax-exempt status under the Internal Revenue Code and be located in one of the 50 States of the United States of America, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic of Palau. In addition, applicants must 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. Eligible libraries include public libraries, public elementary and secondary school libraries, college and university libraries, research libraries and archives that are not an integral part of an institution of higher education and that make publicly available library services and materials that are suitable for scholarly research and not otherwise available. Research libraries must be under the supervision of at least one permanent professional staff librarian and be either generally recognized as possessing unique, scholarly research materials and services that are made available to the public, or able to demonstrate that such is the case when submitting an application to IMLS.
  • 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 (see 20 U.S.C. 9121-9165).
  • 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 and effective coordination of the resources of eligible libraries, as defined above, 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: http://www.imls.gov/applicants/detail.aspx?GrantId=19

Note: IMLS will offer two webinars about this funding opportunity. See the link above to register. Dates/times:

  • Thursday, December 11, 2014, at 2 PM MST
  • Tuesday, January 6, 2015, at 2 PM MST

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