A Year in the Life of Audiovisual/Media Preservation in Illinois: Grant Writing

James “Joe” Feigl III, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign graduate student and Melanie R. Schoenborn, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville​

Grant writing for audiovisual preservation starts with the basics: learning who has funding available and how that money can be used.  In the world of philanthropy the value of a library preservation project is based on the service it will provide and who will benefit from that service.  Grants will vary in their focus, with many current grants funding diversity, sustainability, LBGT, and digitization projects.  The goal is to use the information from an audiovisual collection analysis to develop a grant proposal that fits in with the philanthropy world’s current interests.  Below is an up-to-date annotated bibliography of materials about grant writing and also a list of currently available grant websites with examples of funded projects, the information on currently open grants, and future funding available for the preservation of library materials.

Case Study

Questions Anne Thomason from Donnelley and Lee Library, Lake Forest College

Having completed some of your analysis of your audiovisual collection, if you applied for a grant to help your institution do preservation work for some part of your collection, how much money would you need? 

I don’t know—I would think at least a few thousand. I have not priced any projects yet.

Does your project match one or more of these kinds of grant goals: conservation, preservation, display of artifacts, digitization, or record development? 

Digitization would be my first priority followed by preservation, then conservation. 

Does your proposal meet the criteria for contemporary funding topics, such as history of a specific minority group?

I think we could argue some of our interviews with artists such as Philip Johnson would fit the criteria for important humanities collections. 


Do you need full grant coverage for your project (the grant pays for all it can)?  Can you afford a cost-sharing grant if none of the former kinds of grants fit or are available?

Good question. I think right now the answer is no, unless we could use staff time/pay for the cost-sharing or another in kind arrangement. It would be impossible to match money in a grant. 




Brannock, Jennifer.  “The NEH Preservation Assistance Grant: A Funding Opportunity for First Time Grant Writers” Mississippi Libraries. 71.3 (2007): 65-66. Print.

This short article runs the first time grant writer through a summary of filing a NEH preservation assistance grant.

Browning, Beverly.  Grant writing for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2014. Print.

This gives you step-by-step instructions to follow as you go through the process of applying for grants.

Gajda, Rebecca and Richard Tulikangas.  Getting the grant: how educators can write winning proposals and manage successful projects.  Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2005. Print.

This how-to guide is specifically directed at educators and aims at getting a grant to successfully complete projects in an educational setting.

Miner, Jeremy and Lynn Miner. Proposal planning & writing. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Press, 2013. Print.

A helpful planning guide for writing a grant proposal, this guide asists you in thinking through the grant proposal before writing so filing any grant form is simpler.

Abbanat, Cherie Miot. 11.229 Advanced Writing Seminar, Spring 2004. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare. 

This resource starts from the very beginning of the proposal process (coming up with a research or program problem that requires funding) and goes through a six-phase process to grant proposal submission. Notably, it includes advice on using the human resources you have available to find grants (if you can’t find any yourself) and how to approach these individuals for help.

Bourne, Philip E, and Leo M Chalupa. “Ten Simple Rules for Getting Grants.” PLoS Comput Biol 2.2 (2006).

This journal article is concise, straightforward, and adheres to its title completely. Bourne and Chalupa discuss how grant funders and reviewers can be effective resources, grant-writing and –reviewing skill-building, dos and don’ts of writing effective proposals, simple advice for writing the proposal, and how to handle potential rejection.

Koyama, Dennis, and Stacy Nall. (2015) “Introduction to Grant Writing.” Purdue Online Writing Lab. OWL.

The information shared is directed toward faculty and graduate students, but it is useful for any grant writers.It provides advice to improve specificity, clarity, and focus in the grant proposal. The pages dedicated to these three aspects and the introductory section linked here can be navigated to using the left navigation bar under the heading ‘Grant Writing’. Additional research grant proposal writing advice in the sciences is found on the left navigation bar.

Foundation Center. “Proposal Writing Short Course.”

This resource provides a crash course on proposal writing, including all sections of the grant proposal.  It includes a section-by-section breakdown and gives examples when applicable (such as the budget).


National Endowment for the Humanities. "NEH Preservation Grants”.

This is a listing of all preservation grants provided for funding by the National Endowment for Humanities.  The Common Heritage grant and Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions look promising; new grants may be added and grant deadlines cycle annually or otherwise periodically.

Institute of Museum and Library Services. "Apply for a Grant”. 

Type preservation into the search bar for “Search Available Grants”.  The first link, “Collections Assessment for Preservation Program” is a very useful place to start your institution’s assessment projects.

The Grant Advisor.  "The Grant Advisor Plus”. 

This service lists grants for higher education. Your institution has to be a subscriber to use this resource.

Library of Congress. "Preservation. Grants & Funding”.

This webpage connects to the PDF of Foundation Grants for Preservation in Libraries, Archives, and Museums. 2010 edition.  A getting started section in the introduction includes a link to a free grant writing proposal course along with many other valuable links and three helpful indexes. 

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.  "Grantmaking Policies and Guidelines”.

Here you will find the policies, procedures, contact information, forms and guidelines to follow for Mellon Foundation grant submissions.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “Grants Database”.

The grant database lists former and current grants by locality or by subject.  If it is not possible to submit a grant directly to the Mellon Foundation, the current grantees may be open to assistance or collaboration with your institution.  You may acquire access to resources, financial or otherwise, that would be unavailable due to similar grants already being funded and other reasons.  Use the contact information available on the Mellon website to contact grantees to inquire about opportunities to collaborate.

Dr. Scholl Foundation.

The Dr. Scholl Foundation is in Northbrook, IL. Eligibility is for nonprofit organizations wishing to pursue interests in education, social sciences, civic and cultural endeavors, and the environment.  Average funding ranges from $5,000 to $25,000.

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