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FAQ: Accelerating Promising Practices for Small Libraries


  1. Is my organization eligible? Eligibility for this special grant initiative is defined within the initiative's Notice of Funding Opportunity (PDF 399KB) (see page 10). Additionally, applicants must also have a DUNS number and be registered in in order to submit an application.  Because DUNS numbers are often held at the “governing level” of an organization, this likely means the following:

    • Applications for the Transforming School Library Practice category should come from the school district in which the (K-12) school library operates.
    • Depending on the governance of a public library, the applicant may be the City, on behalf of the individual library, or it may be the library if it already has a DUNS number. Friends of the Library organizations are not eligible applicants.
    • Federally recognized tribes are eligible and the applicant would be the tribal organization.
  2. May I apply in partnership with another, separate organization?  This opportunity is for individual libraries to receive funds and participate in a cohort-style learning and capacity-building initiative while completing their local projects. The lead institution (or applicant) will be the only organization working directly with the cohort and the IMLS-selected mentor organization, however, the lead institution is allowed to have project activities that involve other libraries in their school district, local community organizations, and partners.

Because this initiative includes participation in a community of practice for each funded project, projects that include their own community of practice or cohort model may not be a good fit for APP.

  1. Special Eligibility for the Transforming School Library Practice: Only school districts or other administrative units applying on behalf of eligible school libraries are eligible to apply for funding in the Transforming School Library Practice category.

  2. How are you defining small? IMLS has intentionally not defined “small” within the parameters of absolute numbers so that we do not unintentionally eliminate potential applicants. Instead, as the Notice of Funding Opportunity states: “IMLS invites applicants to consider whether their organization is a good fit for this special initiative for small and/or rural libraries. Applicants should think about a range of attributes that describe their institution, including but not limited to:

    • number of staff members and volunteers;
    • operating budget and sources of revenue;
    • size of the collection and range of services provided;
    • size of facility and property;
    • types, numbers, and geographic distribution of audiences served; and
    • size relative to other organizations of the same discipline or within the same geographic region.”

Proposals from large organizations are unlikely to be competitive in this initiative.

General Project Questions

  1. Can I see examples of successful proposals from previous years? Yes, components of successful proposals from FY 2019 are available in the Search Awarded Grants page on our website.

  2. Can my Community Memory project include digitization? Yes, some digitization may be included as a part of Community Memory projects. These projects, however, must consider digitization as a component within a larger community-based project.  From the Notice of Funding Opportunity (page 7): “We are interested in projects that engage local communities in the collection, documentation, and preservation of their local histories, experiences, and identities...Projects should incorporate authentic and ethical practices and relationships with community members or organizations to ensure the work undertaken aligns with community needs.”

  3. Can an organization submit multiple applications? An organization may submit as many applications as it wishes; however, the same proposal may not be submitted to the APP grant initiative under more than one category (Transforming School Library Practice, Community Memory, and Digital Inclusion).

  4. Can I see examples of a completed Digital Product Form? Yes, successful proposals from the last few years are available in the Search Awarded Grants page on our website, and include the completed Digital Product Forms. There are no examples for this program specifically; however, a few examples from other grant programs are listed below (scroll to the end of the application to find the Digital Product Form). Note that these are not intended to be exhaustive or to present the only possible model, and each applicant should complete the Digital Product Form according to their own expected practices.

    1. LG-70-17-0146-17 University of Pittsburgh (PDF 428KB)
    2. LG-95-17-0079-17 DC Public Library (PDF 1MB)
    3. RE-85-17-0127-17 Wisconsin Library Services (PDF 1.2MB)


  1. Are there any special funding budget restrictions for this special initiative? Given the initiative’s focus on capacity-building, expenses for supplies, materials, and equipment may not exceed 30% of the total funds requested. Please see the definitions for each in the Uniform Administrative Guidance (2 CFR 200).

  2. Can grant funds support staff salary? Grant funds may support the salary of staff members (new or to be hired for the project) for the proposed project’s related work or activities only.

  3. Who assumes the travel costs for in-person gatherings of the communities of practice and should applicants include this item in their budget? Travel costs will be allocated to the mentor organizations who will cover travel for in-person meetings. Libraries and archives should not include this in their application budget.

Mentor Organizations

  1. How will I work with the mentor organizations? Grantees will participate in communities of practice based on their project category. Mentor organizations will facilitate communication between grantees, provide expert guidance, and build grantee capacity in relevant areas. Grantees will be expected to participate in regular teleconferences, online engagement, and in-person gatherings. Consider these commitments when developing your project plans and be prepared to assign a core member of the project team to participate in the community of practice.

  2. May I choose my mentor organization? Unfortunately, no. This special initiative is designed so that all grantees work with one of three mentor organizations to be chosen by IMLS (one expert mentor organization per grant category).

Technical Assistance

  1. We’re interested in this pursuing this opportunity, but the process seems daunting. Is there technical assistance available? Applying for federal funding from IMLS or another agency can be a time-consuming undertaking, but we don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind that there are resources available to help you prepare and submit your most competitive application:

    1. Program officers: IMLS program staff are available to answer questions and discuss your proposal ideas. Please contact the program officer identified for your selected grant category on the APP general information page.

    2. Technical assistance: each of the three systems with which you’ll need to register to submit your proposal has a help desk available to answer your questions.
      Name Phone
      D-U-N-S 800-234-3867 866-606-8220 800-518-4726
    3. Additional resources: your local library consortia, state library agency, nearby iSchool, or a foundation center in your region may also provide assistance with project planning and grant writing.