Grant and Programming Opportunities from NEH

Once again, we’re having student volunteers blog programs of interest from the ALA Annual Conference. This time, Nicole Helregel covers “What’s New at the NEH?” held on Sunday, June 30, at 10:30 a.m.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)and the grants they provide play a large role in the continued success and excellence of many libraries across the country. Four NEH representatives, from the Division of Public Programs, the Office of Digital Humanities, and the Division of Preservation and Access, came to the 2013 ALA Annual conference to update attendees on new programming and grant opportunities for libraries.

Karen Mittelman and Karen Kenten, of the Division of Public Programs, highlighted a film set and programming opportunity called “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle,” that was created in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Some 475 libraries applied and were accepted to receive a set of four DVDs that pertain to civil rights in the United States: The Abolitionists, Slavery by Another Name, Freedom Riders, and The Loving Story. Libraries across the country will show the films and design programming to complement the film series as well as explore and highlight their local Civil Rights–era history. While the deadline to be included in this program has passed, many of the resources are available online, and libraries are encouraged to develop their own programs inspired by “Created Equal.” There is a corresponding traveling exhibit called “Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863, and the March on Washington, 1963,” that libraries can apply for through July 2013. The exhibition was curated by the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Mittelman and Kenten also highlighted an upcoming ALA traveling exhibit designed by the ALA Public Programs Office called “Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry.” The exhibit is inspired by Ken Burns’ documentary The Dust Bowl, and explores the effects of the Dust Bowl on the land and the lives of American citizens. The deadline to apply to host the exhibit in your library is September 30, 2013; twenty-five libraries will be selected to host the exhibit and receive a $1,200 programming stipend.

Perry Collins, of the Office of Digital Humanities, promoted the Digital Humanities start-up grants now being offered by the NEH. The grants are designed to encourage innovations in the digital humanities, with a focus on method and content. Collins pointed out that this is a grant that is often favored by first-time grant-seekers, as it is less intensive and does not require that projects be fully established and meticulously planned. There are two levels: Level 1 will provide as much as $30,000 for projects in the early planning stages, such as workshops and meetings to discuss new ideas; Level 2 offers $30,000–$60,000 and is for more concrete ideas, such as prototypes and working reports. The next deadline to apply for these grants is September 12, 2013.

And lastly, Leah Weinryb Grohsgal, of the Division of Preservation and Access, highlighted a few grants. The first was the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant, which provides as much as $40,000 for up to two years of foundational work on a major humanities collection or reference tool or resource (examples include the Voyages project and the Dictionary of American Regional English). She also spotlighted the Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions, which is another good program for first-time grant seekers; this grant program provides as much as $6,000 for up to eighteen months, and is usually used for planning and assessment (e.g., preservation planning, disaster planning, etc.).

Each of the NEH representatives was very encouraging and urged librarians to contact them directly when writing a grant application. They said the biggest mistake librarians make is not realizing when one of their projects could be eligible for grant funding. They asserted that they are very willing to assist grant-seeking librarians to help tailor their project for a higher level of success when applying for funding. So, if you are unsure of whether one of your projects could be eligible, if you want advice on NEH grant assistance, or if you just want to tell them how awesome they are, contact an NEH program officer today!