Proposal Outline

A good grant proposal such as the one outlined below clearly identifies a goal and the means to achieve it. There are four main types of activities that can be featured in a preservation proposal: production, through which a group of research materials will be preserved; research, where the final project product is to be of value to the larger preservation community; education and training, which involves education/training provided by or to the applicant; capital support, whereby a library is able to upgrade the quality of its storage facilities. In preparation for the proposal, the library/archive collection must be thoroughly examined for significance and surveyed for the particular type of preservation envisioned. Title duplications should be checked, patterns of use verified, preservation strategies developed, and costs and time requirements stated. The proposal must establish a production schedule and describe evaluation and accountability systems.

A preservation proposal is a collaborative effort, involving some or all of the following: curator/director responsible for the collection, preservation administrator, preservation/conservation specialist, subject specialist (especially where language skills are needed), public service staff, and cataloguing staff. This team determines the type of information needed for the proposal, assigns responsibilities, establishes a timetable, and decides on a single final editor for the proposal document, usually the principal investigator. The principal investigator is either the preservation administrator or the curator (sometimes joint investigators are used). The team must meet regularly during development of the proposal to monitor progress and check the main thrust of the proposal.

Funding agencies sometimes provide an application form for the applicant to fill in, but most private foundations rely on the applicant to produce a persuasive argument for funding. The following outline ensures that most of the information likely to be needed is provided in a consistent way.

Summary of the proposal
This is usually a quick, one-paragraph overview of the entire project.

Description of the library or archive
This section should describe the library/archive, indicate the readers/researchers served by it, and outline the size of its staff and collection. This is an opportunity to stress the importance of the library/archive to the community and the role it plays in supporting research and/or popular education. You may wish to include as an appendix any printed brochure that carries a more detailed description.

Commitment to preservation
Describe any prior and ongoing preservation activities, and any participation in cooperative or regional preservation activities. An applicant should list major structural improvements likely to preserve the life of the collection, describe any special preservation training the staff may have received, international and regional conferences and training programs attended, and any special consultants that have provided guidance (include a copy of the consultant's report as another appendix). If the library/archive is a member of a preservation consortium, it should be described at this point.

Accessibility of the collection
Describe the access policies of the library (for example, who may use it and hours of availability). Provide details on cataloguing or other bibliographic control. If the catalogue is electronic and linked with other libraries, this could be an advantage. If there are definite plans to convert the catalogue to electronic form, it should be stated here.

Description of materials to be preserved
Describe the type and significance of the materials to be preserved. Materials would normally be described as books, manuscripts, prints, maps, drawings, or a mix of these. This section could include letters of endorsement by prominent researchers in a separate appendix.

Plan of work
The project timetable (when it will start and when it will finish) should be provided in as much detail as possible. Typically, a large project should not take longer than three years. The preservation activities should be described in some detail, along with the rationale for the particular approach chosen. The staff and/or vendors involved in the project should be listed, along with their experience (include curriculum vitae for the senior participants as a separate appendix). Environmental conditions under which the preserved materials will be stored and used should be explained, including any future plans to enhance conditions. Describe the institution's disaster response plans and security safeguards.

Institutional contributions toward the project
This should mention projected contributions of staff time and any financial contributions by the institution (include funding acquired from other funding sources). The contributions by staff should be expressed in terms of percentage of time to be dedicated to the project (for example, preservation administrator 20 percent, conservation technician 100 percent). If the institution is to receive a partial contribution toward the project from a private donor or the government, it should be described here. In general, the applicant is advised to show from 20 to 40 percent of the total project cost as institutional contribution. The funding agency must see that you are serious about the importance of the project by committing institutional staff time and effort.

Budget narrative
Describe how the funds requested will be spent over the term of the project. Show how you arrived at your budget request figures. If you surveyed the collection and decided on a unit cost, include a copy of the survey as another appendix. If you are working through a vendor or you need to purchase special equipment, you should list price quotations in a separate appendix.

The budget should detail how the funds are to be expended over the life of the project, that is, how they will be distributed over each year. Typical budget categories are salaries and employee benefits (for library staff), purchased or vendor services, supplies and materials (for any in-house work on the project), large equipment (typically costing more than $1,000), and other expenses (such as travel or meeting support).