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Collections Preservation Guidance for Libraries in Massachusetts

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Changes to MBLC Preservation Assessment grant process for 2020

by Evan Knight on 2019-12-16T15:42:00-05:00 | Comments

You may have noticed MBLC's LSTA grants page has gone through some significant changes and updates in the past couple of months. You'll see that the Preservation Assessment grant process is NO LONGER TIED to the LSTA Direct Grants to Libraries.

There is an important caveat to know, however: the "Town-Wide Preservation Assessment," designed for three or more collaborating institutions, remains a part of the Direct Grant process.

So although our Direct Grant Letter-of-Intent deadline has passed, individual institutions interested in a Preservation Assessment should apply according to the new process! There are a number of benefits to breaking this program away from the Annual Direct Grant cycle:

  1. The grant process is easier. We think the updates to the process will make it easier and smoother; but of course it will remain rigorous. Instead of the 15+ pages in a Direct Grant application, the new application consists of six open-ended questions, and the form can be completed almost totally electronically.
    1. We continue to require a survey as a part of the application process, however, it is now an online "Self-Assessment." You will no longer have to deliver a hard-copy questionnaire to MBLC, as responses are automatically submitted to MBLC.
    2. Each institution awarded a Preservation Assessment grant is still required to update their collections management plans. However, we have worked to prepared a template, available online, to simplify and standardize each institution's reporting requirement, called the "Special Collections Management Priorities" survey. Responses are automatically sent to MBLC. 
  2. Timing is more flexible. You can turn around projects more quickly. There are now two grant cycles per year, increased from one, and each cycle will start and finish much faster. You will not have to wait months between the administrative deadlines inherent in the Direct Grant process. You will hear about the success of your award quickly, and will receive your award quickly.

I totally understand how difficult it can be to implement preservation projects--especially in public libraries which are so much to so many in their communities--but I still can't help but be disappointed when Preservation Assessment grantees do not follow up with further preservation projects. One of my goals is to keep building momentum for investments into special collections after a Preservation Assessment and drive preservation projects, from boxing/rehousing, to cataloging, conservation, and more, by making the application process easier and more focused. It's possible you can apply for a Preservation Assessment in January or June of 2020, and have the results in hand as you plan to apply for a Direct Grant in October!

Please note that the deadline for the first grant cycle is coming up: January 6th, 2020. I have received completed "Self-Assessment" forms from a few institutions already, and am looking forward to an exceptional grant round! If this timing doesn't work, keep in mind the June 1, 2020 deadline.

NB: I will be taking previously scheduled leave over the last two weeks of December, so my communications will be delayed until Thursday January 2, 2020 at the earliest. If you have questions about the Self-Assessment form, or the application, my advice is to fill them out to the best of your knowledge -- it's ok if you may not have answers to some questions at this moment. That is why you're requesting the Preservation Assessment, isn't it?


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