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Hidden Collections

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Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives: Enabling New Scholarship through Increasing Access to Unique Materials is a national competition administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for digitizing collections of rare and unique content in cultural memory institutions. The program is generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is built upon the model of CLIR’s Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program, which awarded its final round of grants in December 2014. 

Through the 2015 competition, CLIR awarded nearly $4 million to institutions holding collections of high scholarly value. CLIR seeks funding to support the Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program on an annual basis, and on December 17, 2015 announced a new round of funding for 2016. Information on the 2016 application cycle will be available on our website in mid-January 2016.

Developed through consultation with digital library practitioners and funders, and with input from the broader community, the competition has been designed to:

  • encourage approaches to digitization that make possible new kinds of scholarship in the digital research environment;

  • support the digitization of entire collections (or substantial portions of collections with high research value);

  • promote strategic partnerships;

  • promote best practices for ensuring the long-term availability and discoverability of digital content; and

  • ensure that digitized content is made available to the public as easily and completely as possible.

A review panel, comprising scholars from a range of disciplines and experts in metadata standards, copyright and intellectual property, privacy, ethics, and digital pedagogy, evaluates proposals and recommends award recipients. 

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We occasionally send announcements and news about this program by e-mail. If you would like to be added to our distribution list, please click here.

For further information, contact CLIR at