Two National Endowment Deadlines

Spiral of Books

Public libraries and other organizations may now apply to the NEA Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest. The application deadline is Thursday, January 24, 2019.

NEA Big Read is a community reading program centered on one of 32 selections from the NEA Big Read list. An applicant to participate in the NEA Big Read must propose at least a month-long series of events and programs that are designed around one selected book.

Requested grant funds ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 “may be used for such expenses as book purchases, speaker fees and travel, salaries, promotion, and venue rental.” Grant cost share is required and must be matched on a 1:1 basis in nonfederal dollars.

Applicants must complete two steps specific to the federal grant application process. An applicant must know its organizational DUNS number. An organization may search for or request one through Dun & Bradstreet Each applicant must also have a valid SAM (System for Awards Management) registration.

Several New Jersey libraries have received NEA Big Read awards over the last few years. Both returning and new applicants should be aware of a new application step instituted this year. As noted on the Guidelines and Application Instructions page, to start the process, an applicant must complete an online intent to apply form. After submitting the intent to apply form, an applicant will then receive a link to the full application. The application checklist (which includes a link to an offline application template in Word) will help keep applicants organized during the application process. NEA Big Read staff also developed a new “Survival Guide” to planning a community-wide reading program. The Survival Guide covers partnerships, marketing and promotion, and programming and events. Arts Midwest staff members are available to assist potential applicants by phone: (612) 238-8010 or by email:

National Endowment for the Humanities also has funding opportunities with January deadlines.

Small and mid-sized libraries with humanities collections should consider applying for a Preservation Assistance Grant for Smaller Institutions. Grant funds (typically up to $6,000) help institutions such as libraries, museums, and historical societies to “improve their ability to preserve and care for their significant humanities collections. Humanities collections may include special collections of books and journals, archives and manuscripts, prints and photographs, moving images, sound recordings, architectural and cartographic records, decorative and fine art objects, textiles, archaeological and ethnographic artifacts, furniture, historical objects, and digital materials.”

The application will become available on November 15, 2018 and is due on January 15, 2019. Similarly to the NEA Big Read application process, National Endowment for the Humanities requires an applicant DUNS number, a valid SAM registration and, in addition, a registration. NEH staff members in the Division of Preservation and Access are available by phone: (202) 606-8570 and by email:

About Eileen Morales

Throughout my career, I've helped museums and libraries in New York and New Jersey find funding sources for new projects. My favorite projects have utilized new technologies to increase public access to the photographs, diaries, and everyday objects that are not usually on display. My position as Grants Manager at the New Jersey State Library includes outreach to New Jersey libraries involved in the grant-seeking process. Email me at