You are here

Open Your Hidden Collections!

March 31, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

One of the objectives of the Harvard Library is to enable effective access to the world of knowledge and data through intuitive discovery, networks of expertise, and global collaborations. An important part of this is making discoverable the valuable resources in collections that are currently inaccessible to our patrons.  We have allocated $850,000 as extra support for projects to uncover hidden collections. This message outlines arrangements to deploy these one-time funds, which are available to all units within the Harvard Library.  Eligible projects can focus on both historic and contemporary holdings, in any format, whose metadata does not support robust discovery.   

This money must be spent by June 30, 2015. We are eager to receive proposals from throughout the library community, and also to hear a broad range of comments and suggestions once proposals have arrived.  We therefore want to share broadly this background description, including the nomination form for proposals. Proposals can be submitted by any head of a library unit; others are invited to explore partnerships with library head sponsors. The deadline for nominations is April 21, 2014. 

A six-person screening group (Franziska Frey, Dan Hazen, Katherine Hammond-Baker, Laura Linard, Lisa Schwallie, and Scott Wicks) will preview all applications for eligibility. The eligible proposals will then be made available online for the community’s comments and evaluations. These assessments will be advisory rather than determinative.

The screening group, after reviewing the proposals and the evaluations, will prepare a rank-order list of recommended proposals for consideration by the Vice President for the Harvard Library and the Library Leadership Team. These bodies will then decide which proposals to fund.

Evaluation Priorities and Criteria:

  • Preference will be accorded to proposals that demonstrate that improved access will benefit our students and scholars.
  • Preference will be accorded to collections that meet the needs of more than one discipline or constituency.
  • Preference will be accorded to proposals that are cost-effective and operationally realistic.
  • Preference will be accorded to proposals whose scale can vary as more or less resources become available.
  • Preference will be accorded to proposals for which the library unit can provide necessary preparatory and follow-on support.
  • Applicants are invited to provide matching funds or in-kind support as appropriate.

With these criteria in mind, we hope to support a variety of proposals.


  • April 7: Deadline to contact a screening group member in anticipation of preparing a full proposal. 
  • April 21: Deadline for proposals.
  • Week of April 21: Screening group reviews all proposal for eligibility.
  • Week of April 28: Eligible proposals posted online, with evaluation forms.
  • May 12: Deadline for community comments and evaluations.
  • Week of May 12: Screening group prepares rank-order list of projects to present to the Vice President for the Harvard Library and the Library Leadership Team.
  • May 28: Funding decisions finalized by the Harvard Library administration; sponsors notified.
  • Week of June 2: General communication to report results.

If your proposal depends on services that will be provided by another group (e.g. Digital Imaging or ITS), please work with that group in developing your proposal. Please allow that group at least five working days to prepare a feasibility estimate.

If you have questions about the process, please contact Franziska Frey.

We look forward to your proposals!

Sarah Thomas

Vice President for the Harvard Library and
Roy E. Larsen Librarian of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences