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National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG-L)

Grants to USA Nonprofits, Agencies, Libraries, and Schools
to Enhance Practices in the Library and Archive Fields

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Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)

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LOI Date:


Deadline Date:

03/20/19 11:59 PM ET


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Grants starting at $25,000 to USA and territories nonprofit, governmental, and school-based libraries to address significant opportunities and challenges in the archival and library fields. Applicants must first submit a preliminary proposal. Funding is intended to support one of the following three goals: lifelong learning, building capacity, and increasing public access.

National Leadership Grants for Libraries (NLG-L) support projects that enhance the quality of library and archives services nationwide by advancing theory and practice. Successful proposals will generate results such as new tools, research findings, models, services, practices, or alliances that will be widely used, adapted, scaled, or replicated to extend the benefits of federal investment. This work may be achieved through proposals at various stages of maturity (exploring, piloting, enhancing, or scaling).

The benefits of projects funded in this program must not be limited to the local community but also advance national practice. Projects focused on preserving or providing access to a particular collection or set of collections cannot be supported. Similarly, the program cannot support the digitization of content or pre-digitization activities such as inventorying collections.

Indicators (characteristics) of successful projects in the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program are as follows:

- National impact: Successful projects address key needs, high priority gaps, and challenges that face libraries or archives. They should expand the boundaries within which libraries and archives operate, show the potential for far-reaching impact across sizes and complexity of institutions, and influence theory and practice.

- Current significance: Successful projects appropriately address a critical issue or opportunity for libraries and archives, and build upon current strategic initiatives and agendas in these fields. They should be based on a clear understanding of existing work, and the broader environments (e.g., economic, demographic, technological, social) surrounding libraries and archives.

- Strategic collaborations: Successful projects involve key stakeholders and partners. These collaborations should establish or build on mutually beneficial national partnerships with allied organizations beyond libraries and archives. Collaborations strengthen expertise, leverage resources and relationships, expand development or implementation of services, and strengthen, amplify, or complement the role of libraries and archives in achieving broad impact for the field and within their communities.

- Demonstrated expertise: Successful projects demonstrate a thorough understanding of current theory and practice. They should establish how the team possesses the necessary skills, experience, and knowledge to realize significant shifts across the sector. They should also demonstrate a thorough understanding of the realities of implementation and the ultimate user adoption of new services, practices, or perspectives.

In FY2018-2022, each award under this program will support one of the following three goals of the IMLS strategic plan, Transforming Communities:

- Lifelong Learning: IMLS supports learning and literacy for people of all ages through museums and libraries.
- Build Capacity: IMLS strengthens the capacity of museums and libraries to improve the wellbeing of their communities.
- Increase Public Access: IMLS makes strategic investments that increase access to information, ideas, and networks through libraries and museums.

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.

IMLS places importance on diversity and inclusion. This may be reflected in a project in a wide range of ways, including efforts to serve individuals of diverse geographic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds; persons with disabilities; persons with limited functional literacy or information skills; individuals having difficulty using a library or museum; underserved urban and rural communities; and children from families with incomes below the poverty level. This may also be reflected in efforts to recruit future professionals in the library or museum fields as well as strategies in building or enhancing access to collections and information.

The funding categories are:

- Planning
- National Forum
- Project
- Research in Service to Practice

Your application must designate one of these four funding categories. You may submit as many applications as you wish; however, the same proposal may not be submitted to IMLS under more than one category.

Planning Grants allow project teams to perform exploratory activities, such as analyzing needs and feasibility; solidifying partnerships; developing project work plans; or developing early prototypes, proofs of concept, and pilot studies. Assessing the outcomes of planning activities should be appropriate to this early stage of work. Applications are expected to provide a basic framework for planning activities that have the potential to lead to a future project.

National Forum Grants provide the opportunity to convene qualified individual experts and key stakeholders, including those from adjacent fields as appropriate, to help explore current or emerging issues or opportunities that are important to libraries or archives across the nation as well as to their communities, partners, and stakeholders. National Forum Grants may consist of one or more meetings and related activities. Recipients are expected to produce reports or other deliverables for wide dissemination, and are encouraged to consider leveraging technology to allow broad participation, such as virtual meetings or live-streaming. Additional mechanisms for engaging stakeholders and building awareness of the findings are encouraged.

Project Grants support the development, implementation, and evaluation of work that transforms how libraries and archives serve the nation. Proposals should provide clear evidence of national impact, current significance, strategic collaborations, and demonstrated expertise. Proposals in this category may further pilot, test scalability or feasibility, expand existing products or services into new audiences or contexts, or enhance existing projects or initiatives. Proposals should not simply sustain current activities or represent incremental improvements to existing programs. Applicants should design their proposed work to ensure that new practices have the potential to be easily adoptable, sustainable, and widely implementable across the sector. Proposals should feature formative methods of evaluation appropriate to the stage of concept maturity.

Research in Service to Practice Grants involve the investigation of key questions relevant to library or archival tools and services. These proposals should build on prior empirical, theoretical, or exploratory work in libraries and archives or other disciplines (as they relate to libraries or library services). Proposals should include clearly articulated research questions and feature appropriate methods, including relevant theoretical or conceptual approaches, data collection, and analysis. Findings and their implications for library and archival practice and services should be shared broadly throughout the grant period, rather than exclusively at the conclusion of the project. Dissemination activities should not be limited to publishing journal articles and presenting at academic conferences. Proposals focused on evaluation are not appropriate for the Research in Service to Practice category, and should be submitted to the Project Grants category above.

The project categories are:

- Lifelong Learning
- Community Catalysts
- National Digital Infrastructures and Initiatives

Your application must designate one of these three project categories. You may submit as many applications as you wish; however, the same proposal may not be submitted to IMLS under more than one category. Below is detailed information about each project category.

Lifelong Learning: IMLS is interested in proposals that will have a significant national impact on the capacity of libraries and archives to foster attitudes of discovery and cultivate critical thinking, innovation, communication, and collaboration. Work in this category may include exploring, piloting, enhancing, or scaling programs, services, and partnerships to help patrons gain literacies and skills, extend learning experiences beyond the classroom, and enable experiential and self-directed learning. Work in this category may also address barriers that limit access to information resources, competency-building opportunities, and formal and informal networks. Proposals should develop dynamic, relevant, and applied learning opportunities; demonstrate a thorough understanding of how library staff and resources motivate and engage facilitated and self-directed learning; and include evaluation of patron adoption, retention, and application of new skills and literacies. Proposals should address substantial opportunities in library and archival practice and ensure that proposed outcomes exemplify library principles and values.

Community Catalysts: IMLS is interested in proposals that will have a significant national impact on the capacity of libraries and archives to serve as catalysts that contribute to the well-being of communities. In addition to directly providing programs and services, libraries and archives may also serve as intermediaries that strengthen the work of collaborators and community members by leveraging their expertise, relationships, networks, or infrastructures. Work in this category may include exploring, piloting, enhancing, developing, or scaling approaches that strengthen civic and cultural engagement, foster community health, promote digital inclusion, increase equity and access, support economic vitality, or decrease social isolation. Proposals should address substantial opportunities in library and archival practice, ensure the proposed outcomes exemplify library principles and values, draw upon current approaches in collective impact and community development, and be community-driven.

National Digital Infrastructures and Initiatives: IMLS is interested in proposals that will have a significant national impact on the capacity of libraries and archives to provide access to digital content, collections, and services to a wide range of users. Work in this category may include exploring, piloting, enhancing, or scaling open source digital library infrastructures, efforts to engage communities with digital library content and collections, and other activities related to shared tools and services. Proposals should address substantial opportunities in library and archival practice and ensure that the proposed outcomes exemplify library principles and values.

The following list includes some examples of generally allowable project costs, both for IMLS funds and for cost share (if applicable), under this announcement:

- 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;
- Project development and implementation, during the award period of performance;
- 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.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 147018

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

Anticipated number of awards: 50

Estimated Size of Grant:

- Planning Grants: Up to $100,000
- National Forum Grants: Up to $150,000
- Project Grants: Up to $1,000,000
- Research in Service to Practice Grants: Up to $1,000,000

Term of Contract:

The Beginning Date of Period of Performance is not earlier than July 1, 2019. Projects must begin on July 1, August 1, or September 1, 2019.

The Anticipated period of performance is July 1, 2019– August 31, 2022. Project activities may be carried out for one to three years based on the selected project category:

- Project Grants are for periods of one to three years.
- Planning Grants are for a period of one year.
- National Forum Grants are for periods of one to two years.
- Research in Service to Practice Grants are for periods of one to three years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible as an applicant for the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program, you must:

- Be either a unit of State or local government or be a private, nonprofit institution that has nonprofit status under the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, as amended, and
- 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.

In addition, you must 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 (including community 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 librarian 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 an 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 librarian;

-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.

This program recognizes the potential for valuable contributions to the overall goals of the NLG-L program by entities that do not meet the eligibility requirements above. Although such entities may not serve as the official applicants, they are encouraged to participate in projects. Federally operated libraries and museums may not apply for NLG-L grants, but they may participate with applicants. Contact staff before submitting a proposal involving a federal agency or federal collection. Non-federal entities may serve as subrecipients or contractors and may receive IMLS grant funds as a result of the project. Consult with staff about any eligibility questions before submitting an application.

Native American tribal organizations may apply if they otherwise meet the above eligibility requirements.

The following list includes some examples of unallowable costs, both for IMLS funds and for cost share (if applicable), under this announcement:

- General fundraising costs, such as development office staff or other staff time devoted to general fundraising;
- General operating support;
- Acquisition of collections (See 2 C.F.R. §3187.15(b));
- General advertising or public relations costs designed solely for promotional activities other than those related to the specific project;
- Construction or renovation of facilities (generally, any activity involving the construction trades is not an allowable cost);
- Projects in which the majority of requested funds go to training library or archives staff;
- Contributions to endowments;
- social activities, ceremonies, receptions, or entertainment; and
- Pre-award costs.

Pre-proposal Conference:

Grant Program Webinars: Applicants are invited to participate in a pre-application webinar to learn more about the program and ask questions. Webinar dates are June 25, July 10, and July 25.

The next upcoming webinar will take place on Wednesday, July 25, 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern; More information and to join the webinar:

To view the June 25 webinar, see the links in Pre-Application Information and Supporting Documents below.

Pre-Application Information:

Projects grants requesting $249,999 or more in IMLS funds require 1:1 cost share. All other funding categories do not require a cost share.

The application process for the NLG-L program is a two-phase process. In the first phase (Preliminary Proposal phase), all applicants must submit a two-page preliminary proposal by the deadline listed above. Selected applicants will be invited to submit full proposals in the second phase (Invited Full Proposal phase) of the process. Only invited full proposals will be considered for funding.

Due Date: Submit through by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on September 17, 2018 for Preliminary Proposals; March 20, 2019, for Invited Full Proposals.

Anticipated Date of Notification of Award Decisions: June 2019 (subject to the availability of funds and IMLS discretion)

Before submitting an application, your organization must have a current and active D-U-N-S® number (a unique entity identifier), System for Award Management ( registration, and registration. Check your materials and registrations well in advance of the application deadline to ensure that they are accurate, current, and active.

View this opportunity on

View the June 25 webinar:

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Program Contacts (by project category):

Community Anchors (Sparks, Planning, Forum, and Project Grants):

Marvin Carr, PhD, STEM and Community Engagement Advisor

Tim Carrigan, Senior Program Officer (Early learning, Young adult services, Informal STEM learning, Making)

Sarah Fuller, Senior Program Officer (Community development Workforce development, Services for new Americans, Public health)

Sandra Toro, PhD, Senior Program Officer (Native American library services Native Hawaiian library services)

James Neal, Senior Program Officer (Broadband, Digital inclusion, Open educational resources, Data privacy and security)

Emily Reynolds, Senior Program Officer (Digital collections, Digital preservation, Archives and special collections, Community archives)

Ashley Sands, PhD, Senior Program Officer (Research data management, Scholarly communications, Open infrastructures)

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Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming

USA Territories: American Samoa (USA)   Guam (USA)   Puerto Rico (USA)   Virgin Islands (USA)   Northern Mariana Islands (USA)

USA Compact Free Associations: The Federated States of Micronesia (USA)   Marshall Islands (USA)   Republic of Palau (USA)