Grant Applicants - Program Guidelines

National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG-Libraries) – FY 2014 Guidelines
Application Deadline: February 3, 2014
(Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014.)

Date Posted: October 24, 2013
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number: 45.312

IMLS Information

Guideline Contents

  1. Introduction

  2. Program Information

  3. Eligibility

  4. Registration Requirements

  5. Preparing and Submitting an Application

  6. After You Apply

Questions? See the NLG-Libraries Web page for IMLS contact info.

Teletype (TTY/TDD) (for persons with hearing difficulty): 202/653-4614Upon request, IMLS will provide an audio recording of this or any other publication.

Webinars with Program Staff

We are available by phone and through email to discuss general issues relating to the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. We will offer two webinars, available through the Blackboard Collaborate system, for the FY2014 cycle, to learn more about the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, ask questions of IMLS staff members, and listen to the questions and comments of other participants.

If you are a first-time user of Blackboard Collaborate, click here to check your system compatibility in advance of the webinar. You will be able to confirm that your operating system and Java are up-to-date, and enter a Configuration Room that will allow you to configure your connection speed and audio settings before the IMLS webinar begins. (If you choose to enter a Configuration Room, please note that the IMLS webinar will use Blackboard version 12.5.)

The webinars for the FY14 National Leadership Grants for Libraries program will occur on December 18, 2013, at 3:30 PM Eastern (rescheduled) and January 7, 2014, at 2:00 PM Eastern.

Click here to join the Dec 18 webinar. Click here to join the Jan 7 webinar.

You will be required to provide a name to enter the webinar. Please note that the name you enter will be visible to all participants in the webinar, and we will use it to call on you if you have a question, so please use a name that is pronounceable and appropriate.

When joining the webinar, you may be prompted to install the latest version of Java. If you get system prompts while logging in, choose “Run,” “Accept,” or “OK.”

The audio for the webinar is available through your computer’s speakers. Please click here to enter a Configuration Room to test your audio. Alternatively, you may dial in to hear audio for the webinar over your telephone. Using any touch-tone phone, call (866) 299-7945. When prompted to enter a passcode, enter 9910420#.

Please note that the webinar schedule is subject to change.

Equal Opportunity

IMLS-funded programs do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. For further information, write to the Civil Rights Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services, 1800 M Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802

Office of Management and Budget Clearance Numbers

Guidelines: OMB No. 3137-0029; Expiration Date: 9/30/2015
Forms: OMB No. 3137-0071; Expiration Date: 9/30/2015

How long should it take me to complete this application?

We estimate the average amount of time needed for one applicant to complete the narrative portion of this application to be 40 hours. This includes the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and writing and reviewing the answers.

We estimate that, in addition to the time needed for you to answer the narrative questions, it will take you an average of 15 minutes per response for the IMLS Program Information Sheet, three hours per response for the IMLS Budget Form, and 10 minutes per response for the Partnership Statement.

Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to the Institute of Museum and Library Services at 1800 M Street, NW, 9th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-5802, and to the Office of Management and Budget, Paperwork Reduction Project (3137-0029), Washington, DC 20503.


1. Introduction

The mission of the Institute of Museum and Library Services is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. We provide leadership through research, policy development, and grant making.

U.S. museums and libraries are at the forefront of the movement to create a nation of learners. As stewards of cultural heritage with rich, authentic content, libraries and museums provide learning experiences for everyone. IMLS has adopted a strategic plan for 2012-2016, Creating a Nation of Learners. In FY 2014, each NLG-Libraries award will support one of the following three goals:

  1. IMLS places the learner at the center and supports engaging experiences in libraries and museums that prepare people to be full participants in their local communities and our global society.

  2. IMLS promotes museums and libraries as strong community anchors that enhance civic engagement, cultural opportunities, and economic vitality.

  3. IMLS supports exemplary stewardship of museum and library collections and promotes the use of technology to facilitate discovery of knowledge and cultural heritage.

The goals focus on achieving positive public outcomes for communities and individuals; supporting the unique role of museums and libraries in preserving and providing access to collections and content; and promoting library, museum, and information service policies that ensure access to information for all Americans.


2. Program Information

What is the NLG-Libraries program?

The NLG-Libraries program supports projects that address challenges faced by the library and archive fields and that have the potential to advance 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.

While it encourages and will consider applications in all such areas, IMLS is particularly interested in projects that will support: early learning; STEM; learning spaces in libraries; national digital platform; and civic literacy.

Supporting National Initiatives
IMLS invites libraries to address STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in their programs and projects in order to advance learning and support the acquisition of STEM knowledge at all ages, but particularly for at-risk youth. Click here to learn more about IMLS’s role in STEM initiatives. Projects addressing STEM learning should check the appropriate box on the Program Information Sheet component of the application.

What are the important characteristics of successful NLG-Libraries applications?

  • Broad Impact: Your project should show the potential for far-reaching impact beyond your institution. It should influence practice across one or more disciplines or specific fields within the library or archival professions.
  • In-depth Knowledge: Your proposal should reflect a thorough understanding of current practice and knowledge about the subject matter and support current strategic initiatives and agendas in the field.
  • Innovative Approach: Your proposal should employ novel approaches or techniques new to your project area to strengthen and improve services to your audiences and communities.
  • Collaborative Process: Your project should include collaboration to demonstrate broad need, access to appropriate expertise, and sharing resources. Partners may include stakeholders and members of your target audience among others.
  • Shared Results: Your project should generate results such as models, new tools, research findings, services, practices, and alliances that can be widely used, adapted, scaled, or replicated to extend and leverage the benefits of federal investment.

What are the NLG-Libraries categories?

The NLG-Libraries program accepts applications under three categories:

  • Advancing Digital Resources: Support the creation, use, presentation, and preservation of significant digital resources, as well as the development of tools to enhance access, use, and management of digital assets.
  • Research: Support research that investigates key questions that are important to library or archival practice.
  • Demonstration: Support the development and evaluation of replicable models or practices that are usable, adaptable, or scalable by other institutions for improving services and performance.

What funding categories are available in the NLG-Libraries program?

In any of the three NLG-Libraries categories listed above, you may submit a proposal in the following funding categories:

  • Project Grants support fully developed projects for which needs assessments, partnership development, feasibility analyses, prototyping, and other planning activities have been completed.
  • 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 or proofs of concept. These activities should have the potential to lead to a full project, such as those described in Project Grants above. Planning Grant proposals may not include indirect costs (also known as administrative overhead) as part of the project budget.
  • National Forum Grants provide the opportunity to convene qualified groups of experts and key stakeholders to consider issues or challenges that are important to libraries or archives across the nation. Grant-supported meetings are expected to produce reports for wide dissemination with expert recommendations for action or research that address a key challenge identified in the proposal. The expert recommendations resulting from these meetings are intended to guide future applications to the NLG-Libraries program. National Forum Grant recipients are required at the end of the project to submit to us a brief whitepaper for public distribution summarizing those expert recommendations, which we will post online.

What is the deadline for applying to the NLG-Libraries program?

The FY 2014 deadline for NLG-Libraries is February 3, 2014.

What is the period of time in which my institution can conduct activities funded by a FY2014 NLG-Libraries grant?

Projects must begin on October 1, November 1, or December 1, 2014. Projects must begin on the first day of the month and end on the last day of the final month of the project. Generally, project activities supported by NLG Project Grants may be carried out for up to three years. Planning Grants and National Forum Grants generally last one year.

How much money can my institution apply for?

The award amount limitations are as follows:

  • Project Grants: $50,000 - $500,000
  • Planning Grants: up to $50,000
  • National Forum Grants: up to $100,000

Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for an NLG-Libraries grant?

In order to receive a NLG-Libraries grant, you must provide funds from non-federal sources in an amount that is equal to or greater than the amount of the grant. This rule does not apply to applications in the Research category, or to applications for grants under $250,000 regardless of category. In these instances, no matching funds are required, but we encourage you to match the IMLS funds with non-federal funding in an amount equal to or greater than one-third of the amount of the grant. Click here for further information on cost sharing.

What types of activities can be funded under the Advancing Digital Resources category?

Advancing Digital Resources grants support enhanced access, use, and management of digital content over its entire life cycle by incorporating new technologies or new technical practice. Projects should harness the power of technology to permit new types of information use and experiences.

Examples of potential projects include those that

  • develop and disseminate new tools or services that facilitate access, presentation, management, preservation, sharing, and use of digital resources;
  • increase community access to online information resources through innovative use of existing technology-based tools and/or social networking environments;
  • support collaborations to enhance online access to digital content from multiple sources, including cultural heritage institutions of all types, to provide innovative opportunities for the use of library or archival content and materials for research, teaching, and learning; or
  • deploy and test new processes or tools that support the evolving practices involved in creating, managing, using, and sharing digital information.

Proposals that involve the creation of new digital products such as collections, software tools, or other resources must include as part of the application the Digital Content Supplementary Information Form.

What types of activities can be funded under the Research category?

Research grants support projects that have the potential to inform and improve library or archival practice, resource use, programs, and services. Research project proposals should answer each of the following questions in the narrative portion of the application:

  • What are the specific research questions this investigation will attempt to answer?
  • What is the relevance of the proposed research for current practice?
  • What research method(s) will be used?
  • What type of data will be gathered?
  • How will the data be analyzed?
  • How will the information be reported?
  • How will the research data be managed and made available for future use?

NOTE: We have new data sharing requirements for projects that involve research. Click here for the IMLS Guidance for Research Proposals. Examples of potential projects include those that

  • acquire new understanding of any broadly relevant aspect of library or archive practices, or the needs of communities these organizations serve;
  • investigate how to improve the quality, effectiveness, or efficiency of library or archive management, programs, or services;
  • investigate ways to enhance the archiving, preservation, management, discovery, and use of digital assets and resources;
  • investigate or conduct research to add new knowledge or make improvements in the conservation and preservation of collections;
  • re-use or re-purpose existing datasets to conduct new library or archive research; or
  • investigate how learning takes place in libraries and archives and how use of library or archive resources affects learning.

If an electronic dataset will be created as a result of the proposed research, you must familiarize yourself with the IMLS requirements for projects that develop digital content. You will also need to complete Digital Content Supplementary Information Form, and include this form as part of your application. Part III of this form asks you to summarize the dataset's original purpose and scope; provide technical information about the dataset's format, structure, and content; explain what metadata will be created about the dataset and what standards and formats will be used for the metadata; list any relevant hardware, software, or other dependencies for using the data; identify a repository where the data and metadata will be archived, managed, and made accessible (if applicable); and describe the long-term preservation plan for the dataset.

What types of activities can be funded under the Demonstration category?

Demonstration projects address key needs and challenges facing libraries and archives, implement innovative models for new services or practices that other institutions may replicate or adapt, and evaluate the effectiveness of these innovations. Projects should be designed to document and make available key information about the processes, resources, and lessons learned from the project.
Examples of potential projects include those that

  • demonstrate and/or test new types of partnerships, services, processes, or practices in the library or archive field;
  • demonstrate how libraries and/or archives can enhance services to their communities and contribute to local economic/workforce development, fostering public value and promoting systemic changes in the field;
  • consolidate, restructure, or reorganize existing programs, services, and/or operational workflows in innovative ways through the use of technology or other creative means; or
  • demonstrate and/or test an expansion of collection management, preservation, and/or conservation practices.

What requirements govern the use of IMLS funds?

You may only use IMLS funds for allowable costs as found in IMLS and government-wide cost principle rules, including OMB Circulars and regulations.

What do I need to know about acknowledgement of IMLS support, sharing IMLS-supported work products and copyright, data management and sharing?

Read more about acknowledgement of IMLS support, sharing IMLS –supported work products and copyright, data management and sharing.

What expenses are allowable with NLG-Libraries funds?

Examples of allowable expenses for NLG-Libraries include

  • project personnel (contract or in-house) whose staff time is necessary for the proper and efficient execution of the project;
  • project consultants;
  • project-related travel of key project staff and consultants;
  • purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, or services;
  • program development and implementation;
  • integration of technology into operations or programs;
  • publications based on project activities;
  • software development;
  • evaluation to show the extent to which the project has met its goals; and
  • indirect or overhead costs.

You must explain all proposed expenses in your Budget Justification.

What expenses are not allowable with NLG-Libraries funds?

Examples of unallowable expenses for NLG-Libraries include

  • general fundraising costs, such as development office staff or other staff time devoted to general fundraising;
  • general operating support;
  • acquisition of collections;
  • general advertising or public relations costs designed solely for promotional activities other than those related to the specific project;
  • construction and renovation of facilities (Generally, any activity involving contract labor in the construction trades is not an allowable cost.);
  • exhibit fabrication that includes creation of large-scale permanent structures for animals or objects that would involve contract labor of the construction trades (Applicants with questions about the eligibility of exhibition activities should call us immediately.);
  • projects in which the majority of requested funds go to training library or archive staff;
  • contributions to endowments;
  • social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment; and
  • pre-award costs.

(Note: If you have questions about allowable or unallowable costs for specific activities, please call us for guidance.)

Are partners required for NLG-Libraries?

Partnerships may strengthen an NLG-Libraries application but are not required. An application may include one or more partners. The lead applicant in a partnership must be an organization that is eligible to receive IMLS funds. All members of a partnership should be active contributors to project activities. Read more about partnerships.


3. Eligibility

What are the eligibility criteria for libraries and archives?

To be eligible as a library applicant for a National Leadership Grant, you 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;
  • 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; 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. 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 person 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 person;
    • 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; or
    • 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.

Note to applicants: In order to receive an IMLS grant award, you must be in compliance and good standing on all active IMLS grants.


4. Registration Requirements

Before submitting an application, your organization must have a current and active D-U-N-S® Number, registration, and registration. Check your materials and registrations well in advance of the application deadline to ensure that they are accurate, current, and active.

What is a D-U-N-S® Number and how do I get one?
Click here to learn more about getting a D-U-N-S® Number.

What is the System for Award Management ( and how do I register?
Click here to learn more about Registration.

What is and how do I register?
Click here to learn more about Registration and Tips for Using


5. Preparing and Submitting an Application


For the FY 2014 NLG-Libraries program, will accept applications through 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on February 3, 2014.

Click here to learn more about

Use one of the following identifiers to locate the National Leadership Grants for Libraries package in 
CFDA No: 45.312, or 
Funding Opportunity Number: NLG-Libraries-FY14

What documents are required to make a complete application?

The Table of Application Components below will help you prepare a complete an eligible application. Links to more information and instructions for completing each application component are provided in the table. Applications missing any Required Documents or applicable Conditionally Required Documents from this list will be considered incomplete and will be rejected from further consideration.

How should the application components be formatted, named, and sequenced?

  • Document format: Aside from the first two documents listed below which are created in, all application components must be submitted as PDF documents.
  • Page limits: Note page limits listed below. We will remove any pages above the limit, and we will not send them to reviewers as part of your application.
  • Naming convention: Use the naming convention indicated below. IMPORTANT: You are limited to using the following characters in all attachment file names: A-Z, a-z, 0-9, underscore (_), hyphen (-), space, period. If you use any other characters when naming your attachment files, your application will be rejected.
  • Document order: In, append all application components in the sequence listed below. Use all available spaces in the "Mandatory Documents for Submission" box first. Append any remaining application components using the "Optional Documents for Submission" box.
  • Complete applications: Use the table below as a checklist to ensure that you have created and attached all necessary application components.

Any document you create must be converted to PDF format before submitting it. Click here for assistance in converting documents to PDF. Also, do not send secured or password-protected PDFs; we cannot process these files.

When entering the names of project staff into the SF-424S, note that the Authorized Representative cannot be the same person as the Project Director.

 Table of Application Components



File name to use

Required Documents

The Application for Federal Assistance/Short Organizational Form (SF-424S) form


Abstract (to be uploaded through (one page, max.)

Text document that you create


Program Information Sheet



Organizational Profile (one page, max.)

PDF document


Narrative (ten pages, max.)

PDF document


Schedule of Completion (one page per year, max.)

PDF document


IMLS Budget Form



Budget Justification

PDF document


List of Key Project Staff and Consultants (one page, max.)

PDF document


Resumes of Key Project Staff and Consultants that appear on the list above (two pages each, max.)

PDF document


Conditionally Required Documents

Proof of Nonprofit Status (if applicable)

PDF document


Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (if applicable)

PDF document


Partner Letter of Commitment

PDF document


Digital Content Supplementary Information Form (if applicable)



Supporting Documents

Information that supplements the narrative and supports the project description provided in the application

PDF document



A project abstract should be no more than one page. Insert the text, which you generate through a word processing program and save as a PDF, into the Abstract field in
Information in the abstract should cover the following areas as related to the proposed project:

  • Who is the lead applicant and, if applicable, who are the partners?
  • What is the time frame for the project?
  • What is the challenge, problem, or need the project addresses?
  • Which one of the IMLS strategic goals does this project address?
  • Who is the intended audience for the project outcomes?
  • What will be the specific project activities and tangible products?
  • What are the intended outcomes for audience members in terms of measurable changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, or behavior?

This abstract may be used for public information purposes, so it should be informative to other persons working in the same or related fields, as well as to the lay reader. The abstract must not include any proprietary or confidential information.

Program Information Sheet

1. Applicant Information

  1. Legal Name: From 5a of the SF424S.

  2. Applicant D-U-N-S® Number: From 5f of the SF424S.

  3. Check Yes or No, and provide expiration date, if you check the Yes box. Please note that, before submitting an application, your organization must have a current SAM registration (See Registration Requirements).

  4. Organizational Unit: If you cannot apply for grants on your own behalf, then enter your organizational unit's name and address in these spaces. For example, if your library or archives is part of a university, then enter the name of the university under Legal Name and the library or archive as the as the Organizational Unit.

  5. Organizational Unit Address: Be sure to include the four-digit extension on the ZIP code.

  6. Organizational Governance: You should check the box that best characterizes your organization.

  7. Organizational Unit Type: Select the one that most accurately describes your organization.

2. Organizational Financial Information

  • a-d: All applicants must provide the information requested.

3. Grant Program Information 

  • Select one funding category and one project category under e. National Leadership Grants-Libraries.

4. Check this box if your project addresses STEM learning.

5. Funding Request Information

  1. IMLS Funds Requested: Enter the amount in dollars sought from IMLS.

  2. Cost Share Amount: Enter the amount of non-federal funding you are providing, which must be at least one-half of the total project cost, except as provided above (see “Do we have to provide funds from other sources in order to be eligible for an NLG-Libraries grant?”).  Click here to learn more about cost share.

6. Project Subject Area

  • Select the buttons that reflect the subject areas to be addressed by your project.

7. Population Served

  • Check the boxes that reflect the population(s) to be served by your project.

Download Program Information Sheet (minimum requirements Adobe Reader 7.0.5): 
Adobe® PDF (850KB)

Click here to see instructions for providing your Organizational Profile.


Write a narrative that addresses the components listed and explained below, noting that not all narrative components are required for all categories. Limit the narrative to ten single-spaced, numbered pages. We will remove any pages above the ten-page limit, and we will not send them to reviewers as part of your application.

Make sure your organization's name appears at the top of each page. Use at least 0.5-inch margins on all sides and a font size of at least twelve-point. See the instructions for "Supporting Documents" to provide supplementary material.

Reviewers with a variety of professional backgrounds will read these applications and advise us on their merits. They will base their evaluations on the information presented in the application. Your project narrative should therefore be clear, concise, and well organized with a minimum of technical jargon.

Review criteria are listed below for each section of the narrative. These criteria describe what the reviewers are instructed to consider as they evaluate proposals. Keep these application review criteria in mind when writing your narrative. Be certain to address the bullet points under each of the narrative sections as you write. Address the sections of the narrative separately and in the same order in which they are listed below.

Please be advised that reviewers may also choose to visit your organization's website, as listed on the SF-424S form provided with this application.

1. Statement of Need

Provide a justification for the proposed project as it relates to a field-wide need or challenge. Include information such as the following:

  • The project's intended audience and the need or challenge it faces
  • Evidence that there is some consensus around the urgency to address this need or challenge
  • How this project differs from, complements, or builds upon, previous work in this area
  • How the project will benefit the intended audience

For Project Grants building on a prior NLG-Libraries Planning Grant, include a discussion of what was learned during the planning process.

Review Criteria:

  • The applicant should demonstrate that it has identified an audience, through a formal or informal assessment of the audience’s needs, that it is aware of similar projects completed by other institutions, and that it has developed a project and goals that best answer those needs
  • The proposal should provide evidence of innovation, shown by the degree to which the project results in more than incremental change
  • Research proposals should frame the project in the context of current research and explain what the project will contribute to the library or archive fields.
  • Planning grant proposals do not require full needs assessments and environmental scans since these types of activities can be part of planning activities, but they should describe the field-wide need or challenge the planning grant is addressing.

2. Impact

Describe the intended benefits of this project for the library or archive fields. Address issues such as the following:

  • How the project innovatively addresses current issues that concern the library or archive fields and will have a lasting impact on the field(s)
  • How the project design allows for input, consensus building, and buy-in from others in and/or outside the field
  • Describe the design, integration, and implementation of an assessment method and evaluation plan that will measure and analyze project outputs, outcomes, findings, and products. Describe how the evaluation plan is an integral part of the project design.

Review Criteria:

  • Degree to which the project is likely to have a far-reaching impact through results or products that serve multiple institutions and constituencies
  • Evidence that the project will create, implement, and document workable models that have the potential for successful, widespread adaptation where appropriate
  • Degree to which potential benefits of the project outweigh its potential risks
  • Degree to which evaluation plan ties directly to project goals through measurable project outcomes, findings, or products
  • Evidence that the project evaluation will provide reliable information on which to judge impact or base actions
  • For projects that involve building digital collections, software, or other technology products, in addition to the above criteria, evidence that the project demonstrates interoperability and accessibility in its broadest context and potential for integration into larger-scale initiatives
  • For research projects, evidence that the results will be widely applicable and useful to the library or archive communities
  • For planning grant proposals, evidence that the planning outcomes, findings, or products are identified, will be measured, and can be used to inform the development of a full project

Incorporating Evaluation into Your Project Proposal
Click here for helpful information about evaluation.

3. Project Design

Describe the proposed project's design. Include information such as the following:

  • Clearly stated project goals and objectives
  • The activities required to implement the project and the applicant’s plan to ensure that normal operations are not disrupted
  • The design, integration, and implementation of an evaluation method that will measure project results, findings, or products
  • Information about the roles and commitments of partnering organizations, if applicable
  • Information about any preliminary work or planning (If the project or one closely related to it has been supported by IMLS or other funding agencies, indicate what has been accomplished and the degree to which the project has met its established goals. List any print or electronic publications produced so far, with web addresses, statistics on use, and other relevant information. Submit this list as a Supporting Document if necessary.)
  • Rationale for using any procedures that deviate from accepted practice and explanation of whether the results would be compatible with other resources that follow existing standards
  • Description of how the project will test the potential applicability of any innovative techniques and procedures that the project is likely to develop

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the project proposes efficient, effective, and reasonable approaches to accomplish its goals and objectives
  • Evidence that methodology and design are appropriate to the scope of the project
  • Evidence that the project uses existing or emerging standards or best practices

If products such as digital collections or software tools will be generated by the project, evidence that applicant has considered key technical details and has included the Digital Content Supplementary Information Form.

Diversity Plan [if applicable]

If the project is designed to engage or provide services and products to diverse communities, please describe how the project accounts for their shared experiences, worldviews, and ways of learning. Include information such as the following:

  • Identification of the diverse communities that will be served by the project
  • Description of the unique service needs for the identified population that will be served by the proposed project
  • Explanation for why this particular population was chosen
  • Explanation of how the proposed project will address the library service needs of those communities, particularly the needs of traditionally underserved groups or communities

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the proposed activities will serve the needs of diverse communities
  • Evidence of how, exactly, the identified diverse communities will benefit from the proposed project in ways that would not be possible without IMLS support
  • Evidence that the institution has the capacity to serve the identified diverse communities based on past performance or other relevant criteria

4. Project Resources: Personnel, Time, Budget

Describe the resources, including those funded by the grant and those funded by the applicant organization as cost sharing, required to implement and complete the project. Include information such as the following:

  • Identification of key project staff, their duties, and their qualifications for successfully completing their project tasks
  • Identification of consultants and service providers involved in project activities, the process for selecting them, and how they will work with project staff
  • Qualifications of personnel assigned to manage project finances
  • A timeline for specific activities, showing how the results of one stage of the project carry over into the next one
  • The amount of time that key project staff will devote to the project and how they will balance project responsibilities with other ongoing duties
  • The facilities, equipment, and supplies necessary to support the project
  • Source(s) of matching funds and/or in-kind contributions, if applicable
  • Source(s) and use of revenues that will be derived from the project, if applicable
  • Contributions to and benefits from the project for both the applicant and partner organization(s), if applicable

 Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the applicant will complete the project activities in the time allocated through the effective deployment and management of resources, including personnel, money, facilities, equipment, and supplies
  • Evidence of sound financial management coupled with an appropriate and cost-efficient budget
  • Evidence that the applicant has the ability to meet any applicable cost share requirement
  • Evidence that the project personnel have appropriate experience and expertise and will commit adequate time to accomplish project activities
  • If the project includes a partnership, evidence that all partners are active contributors to the partnership activities

 5. Communications Plan [Not required for Planning Grants]

Describe the project’s communication plan. Include information such as the following:

  • The variety of media and other means the project will use to reach library, archive, museum, and other audiences that might benefit from its work
  • Description of the steps this project will take to ensure that new products and services will reach the target audiences (See for ideas.)
  • The extent to which results, products, models, findings, processes, and other benefits of this project will be transparent and accessible through effective communication channels to the library field and to other professional organizations and communities that might benefit

Examples of communications methods might include but are not limited to webcasts, podcasts, e-mailings, press releases, conference presentations, publications, websites, project blogs, and community outlets. Multiple and interactive dissemination methods that extend throughout the life of the project, from initial funding through final evaluation, are desirable. You are encouraged to develop communication plans that have the potential to reach beyond your usual communities of interest.

Review Criteria:

  • Evidence that the results, products, models, findings, processes, and benefits of this project will be communicated freely and effectively to the library field and to other professional organizations and communities
  • Evidence that communication activities will be ongoing throughout the project lifecycle rather than occur simply at the end of the project
  • Evidence that the project will seek feedback from various stakeholders
  • Evidence that the communities described in the Needs Assessment section can be reached and served through the proposed communications plan
  • Evidence that the project will make every reasonable attempt to communicate lessons learned and the results of the project beyond standard professional audiences and communities of interest

6. Sustainability [Not required for Planning Grants, National Forum Grants, or proposals in the Research Category]

Describe how the applicant will continue to support the project, its results, and/or the new model it creates beyond the grant period.

Review Criteria:

  • Extent to which the project’s benefits will continue beyond the grant period, either through ongoing institutional support of project activities or products, websites, development of institutional expertise and capacity, or through broad long-term access to project products
  • Extent to which the project will lead to systemic change within the organization as well as within the archive and/or library fields
  • For projects that produce digitized collections, software, information systems, and other technology tools, in addition to the above criteria, the extent that project plans address activities to preserve and sustain the resulting digital products

 Please note that reviewers will consider information provided in the narrative, budget forms, budget justification, resumes, and supporting documentation when evaluating your application.

Conditionally Required Documents

If your application indicates your organization's eligibility for IMLS funding is based on its status as a private, nonprofit organization, you must submit a copy of the IRS letter indicating your eligibility for nonprofit status under the applicable provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended. We will not accept a letter of state sales tax exemption as proof of nonprofit status.

Please consult the table below to determine if any additional documents are required. If any of the conditions in the left column apply to your project, then the documents described in the right column are required. If you do not provide them, your application will be considered incomplete and will be rejected from further consideration.

If your project involves …

Then you must include …

A federally negotiated indirect cost rate

A current copy of your Federally Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement*

A digital product (for example, a database of digital images, new software program)

Digital Content Supplementary Information Form, Parts I and II

Research that generates a digital dataset

Digital Content Supplementary Information Form, Parts I and II

*Please note that if you are choosing the option of claiming a rate of 15 percent of indirect costs, you do not need to provide any documentation.

Click here for Requirements for Projects that Develop Digital Content

Digital Content Supplementary Information Form (PDF; 117KB)

Supporting Documents

You may submit other attachments of your choosing as part of your application package, but do not overload the reviewers with too much information. These attachments should include only information that will supplement the narrative and support the project description provided in the application. They should help reviewers envision your project, but they should not be used to answer narrative questions. You may wish to consider the following:

  • Needs assessments
  • Reports from planning activities
  • Digitization plans
  • Web links to relevant online materials
  • Letters of support from experts and/or stakeholders

 Note: When attaching these documents, give each one a specific title for clear identification. All Supporting Documents must include dates of creation and authorship.

What Federal Laws Do I Agree to Comply With When I Submit My Application?

As an applicant for Federal funds, you must certify that you are responsible for complying with certain nondiscrimination, debarment and suspension, drug-free workplace, and lobbying laws. These are outlined below and are set out in more detail, along with other requirements, in the Assurances and Certifications. By signing the application form, which includes the Assurances and Certifications, you certify that you are in compliance with these requirements and that you will maintain records and submit any reports that are necessary to ensure compliance. Your failure to comply with these statutory and regulatory requirements may result in the suspension or termination of your grant and require you to return funds to the government.

1. Nondiscrimination Statutes: You certify that you do not discriminate:
on the grounds of race, color, or national origin (including limited English proficiency), in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. §2000d et seq.);
on the grounds of disability, in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (29 U.S.C. §701 et seq., including §794);
on the basis of age, in accordance with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975, as amended (42 U.S.C. §6101 et seq.); and on the basis of sex, in any education program or activity, in accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq.).

2. Debarment and Suspension (2 C.F.R. Part 180 and 2 C.F.R. Part 3185):
You certify that neither you nor your principals: (a) are presently excluded or disqualified; (b) have been convicted within the preceding three years of offenses listed in 2 C.F.R. §180.800 (including but not limited to: fraud, antitrust, embezzlement, or offense indicating lack of business integrity) or have had a civil judgment rendered against you or them for one of such offenses within that time period; (c) are presently indicted for or otherwise criminally or civilly charged by a governmental entity (Federal, State, or local) with commission of any of such offenses; or (d) have had one or more public transactions (Federal, State, or local) terminated within the preceding three years for cause or default. Where you are unable to certify to any of the above, you must attach an explanation to this application. You must also comply with applicable sections of the OMB guidance in 2 C.F.R. Part 180, and include a term or condition in lower-tier transactions requiring lower-tier participants to comply with subpart C of the OMB guidance in 2 C.F.R. Part 180.

3. Federal Debt Status:
You certify that you are not delinquent in the repayment of any Federal debt. Examples include delinquent payroll or other taxes, audit disallowances, and benefit overpayments.

4. Drug-Free Workplace:
You must provide a drug-free workplace by complying with the requirements of 2 C.F.R. Part 3186. This includes: making a good faith effort to maintain a drug-free workplace; publishing a drug-free workplace statement; establishing a drug-free awareness program for your employees; taking actions concerning employees who are convicted of violating drug statutes in the workplace; and identifying (either at the time of your application or upon award, or in documents that you keep on file in your offices) all known workplaces under your Federal awards.

5. Lobbying Activities (31 U.S.C. §1352):
You are subject to various restrictions against lobbying or attempting to influence a Federal employee or a Member of Congress or congressional employees, in connection with legislation, appropriations, or the award or modification of a Federal contract, grant, cooperative agreement, or loan. Certain additional restrictions apply if you are requesting over $100,000 in Federal assistance.

The Assurances and Certifications contain other general requirements that may apply depending on the nature of your grant activity (for example, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966).


6. After You Apply

What is the application review process?

We use a peer review process to evaluate all eligible and complete applications. Reviewers are professionals in the field with relevant knowledge and expertise in the types of project activities identified in the applications. They are instructed to evaluate proposed projects according to the criteria identified in the program guidelines. The Director of IMLS takes into account the advice provided by the review process and makes final funding decisions consistent with the purposes of the agency’s programs.

How can I serve as a reviewer?

All competitive awards are reviewed by library and museum professionals who know the needs of communities, can share best practices, and are well versed in the issues and concerns of museums and libraries today.

If you are interested in serving as a reviewer, you may submit your information through our online reviewer application at Please remember to attach your resume. Your information will be considered and, if accepted, your name will be entered into our reviewer database. You will be contacted prior to the next deadline regarding your availability to serve as a reviewer.

There are many benefits to reviewing applications, including enhancing your professional knowledge and serving the museum and library communities. If you are selected to serve, you will be helping IMLS and strengthening our grant review process.

When will we find out if we have been selected to receive a grant?

No information about the status of an application will be released until the applications have been reviewed and all deliberations are concluded. IMLS expects to notify both funded and unfunded applicants of final decisions by September 2014. Funded projects may not begin earlier than October 1, 2014.