LOC Of the People: Widening the Path: Community Collections

Below is a summary assembled by the Research & Innovation Office (RIO). Please see the full solicitation for complete information about the funding opportunity.

Program Summary 

Through a gift from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Library of Congress (LOC) will support a multiyear initiative that entails public participation in the creation of archival collections. Specifically, the Library of Congress seeks to make awards to support contemporary cultural documentation focusing on the culture and traditions of diverse, often underrepresented communities in the United States today. These projects will result in archival collections preserved at the American Folklife Center and made accessible through the Library of Congress’ web site. The major goals of this program are to enable communities to document their cultural traditions, practices and experiences from their own perspectives, while enhancing the Library’s holdings with materials featuring creativity and knowledge found at the local level. As such, successful proposals will come from applicants within or closely affiliated with the community they propose to document.

Funding through these awards can be used to cover travel, equipment rental or purchase, and other expenses associated with cultural documentation fieldwork. American Folklife Center folklorists and archivists can assist successful applicants in providing support for specific aspects of cultural documentation activities, such as sharing expertise or training in fieldwork methods, archival practices and associated digital technologies. Library staff will be available to provide technical advice, and work with successful applicants to facilitate a cohort for sharing knowledge and lessons learned. In consultation with American Folklife Center staff during the award process, awardees have the option to develop public programs connected to their projects in their home communities, as potentially supported by additional funds (see Section A.4.1). The American Folklife Center is seeking to build long-term relationships with awardees and to give awardees the opportunity to present their work in a forum at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

The following list is meant to inspire, but not limit, possibilities with regards to cultural documentation projects applicants might propose. Projects should include a combination of interviews, still photography, digital video, field notes or other forms of documentation:

  • Exploration of a community festival or other culturally-meaningful celebration through interviews with organizers and participants, audio-visual documentation of activities affiliated with the event (including planning, set up and post-event activity) and any ephemera or material culture;
  • Seasonal or periodic documentation of institutions or gathering places, such as farmers markets, informal social hang-outs, craft fairs or other periodic spaces that might serve as anchors or markers of community;
  • Community-centric reflection on emergent cultural traditions or practices that have developed as responses to shared collective experience of widespread recent phenomena such as the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice movements or economic change;
  • Broad examination of community-specific cultural practices that can serve as markers of various aspects of identity, such as practices around death or bereavement, life milestones or transition into different modes or phases of living; transmission of language or other intangible aspects of heritage; or informally learned aspects of communication that help cohere a social group;
  • Community history of a neighborhood or other type of geographically-delimited collective space that tracks change and continuity from the perspective of current residents, both long-term and newly arrived, via multi-format documentation; and
  • Documentation focused on temporality, such as tracing traditions and their changes over time, which can include multi-sited projects, but do not need to be delimited geographically.


CU Internal Deadline: 11:59pm MST July 24, 2023

Sponsor Deadline: August 18, 2023

Internal Application Requirements (all in PDF format)

  • Project Summary (3 pages maximum): Please include: 1) the project’s main aims and activities; 2) the project’s significance/connection to the community proposed; 3) a timeline with anticipated outcomes; and 4) the project team’s skills and experience to successfully implement and complete activities.
  • PI Curriculum Vitae
  • Budget Overview (1 page maximum): A basic budget outlining project costs is sufficient; detailed OCG budgets are not required.

To access the online application, visit: https://cuboulderovcr.secure-platform.com/a/solicitations/6893/home


There are no special eligibility requirements.

Limited Submission Guidelines

An eligible applicant organization may submit only one application under this announcement.

Award Information

Anticipated Number of Awards: 10

Award Amount: $50,000

Period of Performance: 12 months

Review Criteria

Specifically, key considerations in evaluating each application will be:

  • Advancement of program goals
    • The extent to which the applicant’s proposal shows a connection to the community proposed. Applicants must articulate the relationships to the community and its cultural practices.
    • The extent to which applicant provided information on the types of cultural activity, experience, and/or traditions they will document. Applicants must offer examples of the kinds of community cultural practices (e.g. events, performances, material culture) that will be documented and the methods and technologies that will be used (e.g. audio- recorded interviews, photographs, descriptive notes).
    • The extent to which the significance of the project is made clear, and its potential to help raise public awareness of the documented cultural activity and community.
  • Feasibility of successful project outcomes
    • The extent to which the project design, implementation plan, and timeline aligns with the availability of the project personnel and access to cultural activity. Successful applications will provide evidence that the project can succeed and that the scale and scope is appropriate to the proposed budget and 12-month award period.
    • The extent to which the applicant has outlined and addressed any logistical factors or contingencies that could impede project success, such as: access to community and/or cultural activity, scheduling or other time dependencies, availability of team members or collaborators or any travel-related risks.
    • To what degree has the applicant shown they possess the capacity to successfully complete the project and meet stated aims?
  • Background and experience
    • Applicant demonstrates they have experience, training, and/or skills supporting completion of the project. Formal training or credentials in ethnography/cultural documentation/fieldwork methods are not required, but familiarity with documentary tools and methods enhance proposal competitiveness.
    • Do the identified collaborators, consultants, and/or service providers possess the skills necessary to complete the work?
    • The extent to which the applicant’s proposal demonstrates connection to a community, and that the project has value for the community.
  • Reasonableness of costs and likelihood that budget will support project execution
    • Has applicant demonstrated an understanding of the financial aspects of the proposed project?
    • Can applicant support and complete proposed activities in the time allocated, through the effective deployment and management of resources, including personnel, travel, equipment, and supplies?
    • Are costs allowable under the cost principles found in 2 CFR 200 Subpart E?
    • If cost sharing, does the proposed cost share comply with relevant standards (2 CFR 200.306; Standard Provision "Cost Sharing (Matching)" for U.S. entities)?