Grant Applicants
Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries

The Notice of Funding Opportunity (Grant Program Guidelines) for the current fiscal year is now available:

Access FY 2015 Notice of Funding Opportunity Online

Read more about the Sparks! Ignition Grants program on the IMLS website.


Deadline: February 02, 2015
Grant Amount: $10,000 to $25,000
Grant Period: Up to one year
Cost Share Requirement: No matching requirements.
Program Contact: Mary Alice Ball, AMLS, PhD, Senior Library Program Officer

Tim Carrigan, Senior Library Program Officer

Sandra Toro, PhD, Senior Library Program Officer

Emily Reynolds, Library Program Specialist
Program Overview:

Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries are a special funding opportunity within the IMLS National Leadership Grants for Libraries program. These small grants encourage libraries and archives to test and evaluate specific innovations in the ways they operate and the services they provide. Sparks Grants support the deployment, testing, and evaluation of promising and groundbreaking new tools, products, services, or organizational practices. You may propose activities or approaches that involve risk, as long as the risk is balanced by significant potential for improvement in the ways libraries and museums serve their communities.

Successful proposals will address problems, challenges, or needs of broad relevance to libraries and/or archives. A proposed project should test a specific, innovative response to the identified problem and present a plan to make the findings widely and openly accessible.

To maximize the public benefit from federal investments in these grants, the Sparks! program will fund only projects with the following characteristics:

Broad Potential Impact—You should identify a specific problem or need that is relevant to many libraries and/or archives and propose a testable and measurable solution. Proposals must demonstrate a thorough understanding of current issues and practices in the project’s focus area and discuss its potential impact within libraries and/or archives. Proposed innovations should be widely adoptable or adaptable.

Significant Innovation—The proposed solution to the identified problem must offer strong potential for non-incremental, significant advancement in the operation of libraries and/or archives. You must explain how the proposed activity differs from current practices or takes advantage of an unexplored opportunity, and the potential benefit to be gained by this innovation.


Libraries that fulfill the general criteria for libraries may apply. In addition, institutions of higher education, including public and nonprofit universities, are eligible.


Grant Program Webinars:

We invite you to participate in one of two pre-application web conferences to learn more about the program, ask questions, and listen to the questions and comments of other participants. Click here for instructions for participating.

Webinar schedule:

  • Thursday, December 11, 2014, at 4 PM ET
  • Tuesday, January 6, 2015, at 4 PM ET
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