This session at the Special Libraries Association Annual Conference -- Funding for the Future: Preserving the Past -- was a wonderful session for understanding some of the funding opportunities available from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. All three organizations have funding available for digitization and digital preservation (see their web sites for specific information and requirements). What interested me most was that these organizations are expecting well-thought-out proposals that consider sustainability, dissemination, and national impact.
Sustainability means that the project (program) will live on after the grant is completed. The organization needs to think upfront about funding, staffing and processes to ensure that occurs. The person from the IMLS specifically noted that they look at the sophistication and complexity of the digital preservation plans. Preservation of the assets should include the "rule of three". That means that there are at least three backups kept in geographically diverse locations. With backups spread across the U.S., for example, a environmental disaster in one area would not eliminate all of the backups.
Dissemination means that information about the project from is planning stage through to completion are made available to others. This level of transparency ensure that we all learn from the projects that are occurring. This information -- which might take the form of documents, reports, or presentations -- need to be accessible for the long-term, just like the digital assets that are created.
National impact means that the organization understand what their content and program means to a broader audience. For example, how does the material inform what we know about our history? How does the material improve our knowledge-base? What audience, outside of those that are known, will be interested in this material and how will they learn that the material exists?
Finally, each speaker talked about how proposals are reviewed. Applicants need to be aware that proposals are critically reviewed by experts and the the reviewers recommend which projects should be funded. IMLS will review drafts as well as talk to applications about the requirements, etc., and they encourage potential applications to contact them for assistance. I believe that the other two organizations can also provide additional information, if not some assistance. Applications should look not only at the grant requirements (and please read them before you start asking questions), but should also look at any information available on past award winners, since much can be learned about requirements by seeing what others have done.
I appreciated this session and hope that others blogged it, I'm sure we all took away different notes. If yes, I'll link to those blog posts when I find them.
Technorati tags: SLA2009, Digital Preservation
Neil Beagrie's report on the economics of keeping research data safe and the LIFE project reports are worth noting re: sustainable digital preservation.
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