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Libraries and Museums Advance the Digital Humanities: New Grant Opportunity

Friday, October 7, 2016

Nearly 10 years ago, IMLS partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to launch the Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant program. Over the last decade, this program has provided seed money to projects that have had a significant impact on the digital tools and services offered by libraries and museums. For example, they have supported work on digital forensics and born digital archival materialcrowdsourcing transcription for special collectionsexploring computational methods for identifying and describing content, and developing new methods for managing temporal metadata for collections

All of these projects directly inform and support IMLS’s commitment to improve the National Digital Platform for libraries and museums. The National Digital Platform is the combination of software applications, social and technical infrastructure, and staff expertise that provide digital content, collections, and related services to users in the US. Through grants at a variety of levels across its programs, IMLS has funded a number of projects that contribute to digital humanities work at libraries. This funding has supported projects that capture and mine social media data, convene scholars and other specialists in planning digital collections projects, expand librarians’ expertise in data mining, and other related projects.

Given the success of collaborations between humanities scholars and library and museum professionals, and the relevance of this work to the humanities, and to libraries and museums, it makes a lot of sense for IMLS and NEH to work more closely together.

The field of digital humanities is increasingly moving into the domains of library and museum professionals, such as curation, preservation, information architecture, metadata, and sustainability. We see this moment as a critical juncture for ensuring that library and museum professionals are understood as leaders in the digital humanities, and not simply as supporters in a passive role. For the digital humanities to continue to mature as a field, it is critical that library and museum professionals are equal partners in advancing the work. To this end, we are thrilled to renew our partnership with NEH. 

The New Grant Opportunity

Through Libraries and Museums Advance the Digital Humanities, IMLS will be able to support innovative collaborations between museum or library professionals and humanities professionals to advance the preservation of, access to, use of, and engagement with, digital collections and services. Through this partnership, IMLS and NEH will jointly fund Digital Humanities Advancement Grant projects that involve collaborations with museums and/or libraries in support of the National Digital Platform effort.

These projects will advance the IMLS mission of improving broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning. Through this partnership, IMLS funds will support Level I and II projects that involve collaborations with museums and/or libraries. Level I projects (from $5,000 to $40,000) are small grants designed to fund exploratory sessions, workshops, early alpha-level prototypes, and initial planning. Level II projects (from $40,001 to $75,000) can be used for more fully-formed projects that are ready to begin implementation or demonstrate proofs of concept.

Full proposals for this program are due January 11, 2017 (for projects beginning September 2017). Applicants will submit their proposals to NEH, but if they have any questions regarding IMLS involvement, they may contact either Trevor Owens (tjowens@imls.gov) or Emily Reynolds (ereynolds@imls.gov).