IMLS Releases Guidelines for Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums

by | Sep 14, 2010 | 0 comments

Deadline for applications: November 15, 2010

-The Institute of Museum and Library Services announces the release of grant guidelines for Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums ( This new grant program will provide one-year grants of $10,000 to $25,000 for innovative projects that respond to the challenges and opportunities facing cultural heritage institutions in a rapidly changing information environment. The submission deadline is November 15, 2010.

Successful proposals will address problems, challenges, or needs of broad relevance to museums, libraries, or archives, will test innovative responses to these problems, and will make the findings of these tests widely and openly accessible. Grant funding may include all activities associated with planning, deploying, and evaluating the innovation, as long as the expenses are allowable under federal and IMLS guidelines. Examples of projects that might be funded by this program include, but are not limited to:

  • exploring the potential of highly original, experimental collaborations,
  • implementing new workflows or processes with potential for substantial cost savings,
  • testing new metrics or methods to measure the impact of promising tools or services,
  • rapid prototyping and testing of new types of software tools, or creating useful new ways to link separate software applications used in libraries, archives, or museums,
  • offering innovative new types of services or service options to museum, library, or archive visitors, or
  • enhancing institutions’ abilities to interact with audiences in new ways to promote learning or improve services, such as through the deployment of innovative crowd-sourcing techniques.

Sparks! Ignition Grant funds may not be used for:

  • evaluation of an existing program or service,
  • projects that are only for planning or research (as distinguished from experimentation),
  • projects that are limited to existing and traditional approaches to exhibitions, performances, or other types of public programs,
  • projects that involve mainly digitization, unless the applicant is proposing an innovative method for digitization,
  • activities that will produce only incremental improvements in operational or business processes,
  • support of conferences or professional meetings, or
  • acquisition of equipment in excess of 50 percent of the total funds requested from IMLS.

Because innovations can emerge in a variety of settings, the Sparks! Ignition Grants initiative is structured to encourage participation by museums and libraries of all types and sizes. Libraries and library organizations that fulfill the general criteria for libraries may apply ( Museums and museum organizations that fulfill the general criteria for museums may apply ( Partnerships are permitted, but not required. No cost sharing is required for these grants.

Webinars with Sparks! Grants Staff

Learn more about the Sparks! program at one of IMLS’s upcoming webinars. Sparks! program staff will talk about the purpose of the grants, the grant application process, and answer participants’ questions during three upcoming webinars. The webinar schedule is:

  • September 30, 2010 – 1:00 PM ET
  • October 13, 2010 – 1:00 PM ET
  • November 3, 2010 – 1:00 PM ET

Duration: 1 Hour

Webinar link:

Conference call number: 1-888-850-4523; Participant Passcode: 761243

Please test your computer’s compatibility with Adobe Connect Pro by visiting the following link: We recommend you do this well before the conference begins.

Participants may begin logging in to the webinar up to 10 minutes prior to the conference start time. We recommend you log in to the webinar before calling the conference call line. If you do not have a computer available to you, you may participate solely through the conference call line.

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