September 15, 2015

By Trevor Owens, Senior Program Officer
Emily Reynolds, Program Specialist
Office of Library Services, IMLS

We recently announced the second series of awards addressing the national digital platform priority in the National Leadership Grants for Libraries program, resulting from our February 2015 application deadline. Through a competitive review process, nine projects were selected as the strongest in helping advance the digital capability and capacity of libraries across the U.S. Each of these projects contributes to enhancing the combination of software applications, social and technical infrastructure, and staff expertise that provide library content and services to users across the U.S. Cumulatively, the projects received $3,281,448 in IMLS funds with an additional $1,790,706 provided by applicants as cost share.

As a follow-up to announcing the funded projects, we are pleased to be able to provide additional detail about them. For each project, we are sharing the original preliminary proposal, the full proposal narrative, the schedule of completion, and the digital stewardship supplementary form.

Why we are sharing the proposals

We are excited to be able to openly share documents from these projects’ grant applications for several reasons:

  1. Everyone can follow along: These projects are intended to make a national impact. By releasing these documents, we enable people around the country to read along and see where these projects are planning to go.
  2. Working toward defaulting to open: IMLS is committed to transparency and openness, and sharing these documents is a step in the direction of increasingly defaulting towards open.
  3. What’s in a winning proposal?  This is the second series of grants we have awarded through our new two-stage process. IMLS issues a call for two-page preliminary proposals, which are then reviewed by a panel, resulting in the invitation of a subset of those applicants to submit full proposals for a second round of peer review. When potential applicants look to apply in future cycles, it will be very useful for them to be able to see documents that succeeded as points of reference.

Understanding the proposal documents:

For some context, here is a bit of information about the pieces of the application that are available for each of these projects. All documents were created as part of the full proposal submitted by each applicant, except for the preliminary proposal included at the end of each PDF.

  • Full Proposal Abstract: A one-page overview of the proposed project.
  • Full Proposal Narrative: These ten-page documents lay out the case for why the work is needed, how it will be accomplished, what its outcomes will be, and how it will approach evaluation.
  • Schedule of Completion: A short document laying out the timeline for the project.
  • Digital Stewardship Supplementary Form: This document gives applicants the space to answer questions about any digital products they will create (content, software, data sets etc.). Only proposals creating digital content need to complete this form.
  • Preliminary Proposal: The initial two-page proposals; think of them like the movie trailer for the project, or the elevator pitch. These proposals were part of a set of 34 initial proposals submitted to the National Leadership Grants for Libraries priority area in this grant cycle.

National Digital Platform Projects funded in August 2015

Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature (LG-70-15-0138-15): The New York Botanical Garden, Harvard Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Missouri Botanical Garden, and Smithsonian Institution Libraries, as part of the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), will work to position BHL as an on-ramp for biodiversity content providers interested in contributing to the national digital library infrastructure through the Digital Public Library of America.

Email: Process, Appraise, Discover, Deliver – ePADD Phase 2 (LG-70-15-0242-15): Stanford University Libraries, with partners University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Harvard University, University of California, Irvine, and Metropolitan New York Library Council will significantly improve ePADD, an open-source software package that advances the formation of a National Digital Platform through supporting archival processes around the appraisal, ingest, processing, discovery, and delivery of email archives.

Improving Access to Time-Based Media through Crowdsourcing and Machine Learning (LG-71-15-0208-15): WGBH, in partnership with Pop-Up Archive, will address the challenges faced by many libraries and archives trying to provide better online access to their media collections.

Systems Interoperability and Collaborative Development for Web Archiving (LG-71-15-0174-15): The Internet Archive, working with partner organizations University of North Texas, Rutgers University, and Stanford University Library will undertake a two-year research project to explore techniques that can expand national web archiving capacity in several areas.

Omeka S: Enhanced Description and Dissemination (LG-70-15-0258-15): George Mason University will extend the core functionality of Omeka S by more fully integrating linked open data in digital collections, and creating new modes of access and dissemination through other platforms.

Software Preservation Network National Forum (LG-73-15-0133-15): California Polytechnic State University, in partnership with the University of Texas at Austin, will run a one-year planning and research project that will culminate in a forum on software preservation in support of the missions of cultural heritage organizations.

The Digital Atlas of Native American Intellectual Traditions: Creating a National Platform (LG-72-15-0114-15): Amherst College, in conjunction with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums; the Mukurtu project; and the Digital Public Library of America, will work together to develop a framework for sharing, exploring, and visualizing Native-authored library and archival collections.

Virtual Reunification of Dispersed Archival Photographs: Adding Value to Large-Scale Digital Aggregations (LG-72-15-0143-15): The University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies, in partnership with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, received a planning grant to support a meeting to develop specific plans for facilitating virtual reunification of dispersed photograph and image collections.

Assessing the Needs of Public Libraries toward Advancing the National Digital Platform (LG-72-15-0197-15): OCLC will work with the Digital Public Library of America, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, the Public Library Association, and Association for Library Collections & Technical Services to conduct a nationwide survey of public libraries and state library agencies.