Cornell University Library Grants Program for Digital Collections

Program Goals

The program aims to support collaborative and creative use of resources through the creation of digital content of enduring value to the Cornell community and scholarship at large. The application process does not require any expertise — all you need is a good idea as the Library’s visual resources team will guide you through the process. The program, coordinated by Cornell University Library, was developed by the Visual Resources Advisory Group

Examples of proposals that are within the scope of the grants program include:

  • Creating new digital collections from Library, departmental, faculty, or graduate student-held resources that are regularly used in teaching or research, including lecture notes, slides, photographs, printed documents, manuscripts, or audiovisual materials. 
  • Digitizing archival collections or unique materials held by Cornell University, which are instrumental in supporting learning, teaching, and research, as well as supporting the University’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 
  • Converting materials or born-digital content held by other cultural institutions, that will support teaching and research at Cornell — especially combining dispersed resources to create new and enriched ones. 
  • Projects that will subsequently support new research methods, innovative data visualization, and tools that enable novel ways of analysis and interpretation.
  • For examples of projects within the context of the grants program, see the list of awards from previous years.

Note: Final selection of materials will be subject to ability to clear copyright.

The emphasis is on building a library of resources to support a range of scholarly activities at Cornell in general, rather than creating teaching applications or custom-designed web sites for a specific course. The digital collections created through this grants program will become a part of Cornell University Library’s digital library.

Individual project awards will be in the range of $5,000+ in the form of digital collection development services and systems provided by the Library, collaboration planning, and wages or stipends for research assistants. Collaborative projects that combine internal and external funding and other special programs are welcome.

For more information or an initial assessment of a project idea, please email

Selection Criteria

The Grants Program is open to Cornell faculty, as well as PhD candidates who have passed their A exam, have a letter of endorsement from their committee chair, and have met with DCAPS staff to discuss their proposal. The Library particularly encourages projects that:

  • Create impactful teaching resources in support of student learning
  • Demonstrate strong interest within the academic community for access to the collection, thereby providing significant opportunity for collaboration and engagement beyond the Cornell community
  • Increase the availability, discoverability, and consequently the use of a collection of demonstrated scholarly significance
  • Identify collections held by Cornell University that are important or unique and should be accessed online by a global community
  • Need digital preservation, as the materials are rare, fragile, or at-risk
  • Further the goals of diversity, equity, and inclusion, or will benefit historically underrepresented groups
  • Support the University’s subject strengths
  • Seek to provide greater access for a diverse range of hearing and sight abilities with web-accessible description, OCR, transcription or captioning

View Grants Program Evaluation Rubric

How to Apply

Expressions of interest are due by October 1, 2023. Simply email with a brief description of your proposal. Applications are due November 1, 2023.

After receiving an email expressing interest, DCAPS staff will contact and assist applicants with the full proposal application process — including copyright issues, budgets, and technology options.

  • Download application
    Please note: Prior to submitting an application, graduate students are required to meet with DCAPS staff to discuss their proposal. In addition to the proposal application, graduate students are required to submit a letter of support from their committee chair. See application for submission details.

The Proposal Review Committee, comprised of members of the Visual Resources Advisory Group, will evaluate proposals and make their recommendations.