Sponsored By:

nsf logo (3077 bytes)

National Science Foundation

darpa logo (2048 bytes)

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

nlm logo (2975 bytes)

National Library of Medicine


Library of Congress

nasa logo (2545 bytes)

National Aeronautics & Space Administration

National Endowment for the Humanities

National Endowment for the Humanities

In Partnership With:

National Archives and Records Administration
Smithsonian Institution

PROPOSAL DUE DATES: JULY 15, 1998; MAY 17, 1999
Announcement Number NSF 98-63 (NEW)


Innovative digital libraries research and applications will be jointly supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the Library of Congress (LoC), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and others. This announcement describes the goals and features of Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase 2 (DLI-2), with particular attention on NSF interests and requirements. More detailed information on the domain-specific interests of the partnering agencies may be obtained from them. Within NSF, DLI-2 is administered by the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS) of the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE). Supporting Directorates include the Directorate for Education and Human Resources and the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. Contacts for these and related activities at other agencies are referenced at the end of this announcement.

The current effort extends the joint NSF/DARPA/NASA "Research on Digital Libraries Initiative". Since announcement of that initiative, digital libraries research and applications efforts have proliferated; new communities of researchers, information providers and users have become engaged; the definition of a digital library has evolved; technologies have advanced; stores of digital content have increased dramatically; and new research directions have emerged. These advances point to a future in which vast amounts of digital information will be easily accessible to and usable by large segments of the world's population.

To help achieve this, the Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase 2 plans to:

Electronic information is being created by many people and data gathering instruments in many forms and formats, stored in many repositories around the world, and becoming increasingly interconnected via electronic networks. Digital libraries research is faced with the challenge of applying increasing computational capacity and network bandwidth to manage and bring coherence, usability, and accessibility to very large amounts of distributed complex data and transform it into information and knowledge. Since digital libraries are meant to provide intellectual access to stores of information, research in this initiative is concerned with developing concepts, technologies and tools to gain use of the fuller knowledge and meaning inherent in digital collections. For example, for users this means intelligent search, retrieval, organization and presentation tools and interfaces; for content and collections providers this means new information types, structures, document encoding and metadata for enhancing context; for system builders this means designing hardware and software systems capable of interpreting and implementing users' requests by locating, federating and querying collections to provide the user with the structured information sought.


The primary purposes of this initiative are to provide leadership in research fundamental to the development of the next generation of digital libraries, to advance the use and usability of globally distributed, networked information resources, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative applications areas. Since digital libraries can serve as intellectual infrastructure, this Initiative looks to stimulate partnering arrangements necessary to create next-generation operational systems in such areas as education, engineering and design, earth and space sciences, biosciences, geography, economics, and the arts and humanities. It will address the digital libraries life cycle from information creation, access and use, to archiving and preservation. Research to gain a better understanding of the long term social, behavioral and economic implications of and effects of new digital libraries capabilities in such areas of human activity as research, education, commerce, defense, health services and recreation is an important part of this initiative.

Collaboration between academic, industry, non-profit and other organizations is strongly encouraged to establish better linkages between fundamental science and technologies development and use, through partnerships among researchers, applications developers and users.

The sponsoring agencies have the following special interests in this intiative:

I. Research

Research areas are organized into three areas for ease of exposition. The categories and topical areas selected are illustrative, and topics may cut across several areas. No priority is implied in the ordering of the areas or subareas.

Human-Centered Research

Human-centered digital libraries research seeks to further understanding of the impacts and potential of digital libraries to enhance human activities in creating, seeking, and using information and to promote technical research designed to achieve this.

Example topics are:

Content And Collections-Based Research

Content and collection-centered digital libraries research focuses on better understanding of and advancing access to novel digital content and collections. Research focusing on content from many disciplinary areas and knowledge domains is appropriate. Proposals that focus on content from scientific and non-scientific knowledge domains are encouraged as are proposals drawing on existing public domain data from Federal agencies and other established data collecting organizations. In most cases support will not be provided for routine digitizing or conversion of existing collections.

Example topics are:

Systems-Centered Research

Systems-centered digital libraries research focuses on component technologies and integration to realize information environments that are dynamic and flexible; responsive at the level of individual, group, and institution; and capable of adapting large, amorphous, continually growing bodies of data to user-defined structure and scale.

Example topics are:

II. Testbeds and Applications

This focuses on development of digital libraries testbeds for technology testing, demonstration and validation, and as prototype resources for domain communities - technical and non-technical. Support will be provided for development and implementation of digital libraries applications which demonstrate new technologies and are sufficiently robust and stable to serve identifiable communities and encourage collaborative work environments. Applications projects are expected to result in enduring information environments for research, learning, and advancing public use in creative ways.

Example activities are:

III. Planning Testbeds and Applications for Undergraduate Education.

To explore the linking of digital library research efforts and testbeds for undergraduate education, NSF's Division of Undergraduate Education will provide a total of $500,000 for planning and study projects in FY 1998. Successful applicants are expected to demonstrate high potential to advance undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering and technology (SMET) education. Three types of proposals are of interest: practical digital library applications for SMET education, technical studies of digital library capabilities, and general policy studies.


All awards for this announcement made by NSF will be as grants or cooperative agreements to academic institutions and qualified non-profit research organizations. Partnership arrangements with other groups are encouraged, including subcontracts with the single proposing organization.

NSF expects to fund two general types of projects under this initiative:

  1. Individual investigator research grants. Awards will not exceed $200,000 per year, for 1 to 3 years.
  2. Multi-disciplinary group research projects. Awards will not exceed $1,200,000 per year, for 1 to 5 years.

The number of awards will depend on the quality of proposals received, the availability of funds, and considerations for creating a balanced overall program. Total support for the initiative from federal sponsors is projected to be $40-$50 million over the 5 year Initiative. Awards will not exceed $1,200,000 per year, except in exceptional circumstances. Ideas for projects requiring support above this level should be discussed with the NSF program officer before proposal preparation.


Letters of Intent Are Due April 15, 1998 for the FY 1998 Competion and February 15, 1999 for the FY 1999 Competition.

Organizations or persons considering submission of a proposal should send an electronic mail message with the following statement: "I am interested in submitting a proposal to the Digital Libraries Initiative focusing on (Research, Testbeds and Applications, Planning Testbeds and Applications for Undergraduate Education)." It should include:

Submit the letter of intent as an electronic mail message to or send a letter with the same information to:

Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase 2
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems
Suite 1115
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

Full Proposals

Proposal deadlines are: July 15, 1998, May 17, 1999

The proposals must be marked DIGITAL LIBRARIES - NSF 98-63 in the top left hand box, "Program Announcement", on the cover sheet (NSF Form 1207). Proposals prepared as specified in the NSF Grant Proposal Guide (NSF-98-2) and sent to:

National Science Foundation PPU
Digital Libraries Initiative - Phase 2
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

Special Conditions For Projects Seeking Multiple Sponsorship From Other NSF Programs Or Other Federal Funding Agencies

For projects seeking multiple support from other NSF programs or other Federal funding agencies the following special conditions apply:

  1. For those seeking joint support from other NSF disciplinary programs, the proposal should be written, and the budget constructed to allow separate and independent review and funding of each component, the domain-specific component and the DLI-2 component. The proposal should clearly indicate targeted NSF programs appropriate for support.

  2. For those seeking joint funding from Federal agencies with extramural programs available for support of digital libraries-related research and applications, the proposal should be written, and the budget constructed to allow independent review and funding of each specific component by each agency. Potential co-sponsors include programs in the group of agencies supporting this initiative and other Federal agencies.

An organization wishing to submit a multiple-funding proposal assumes the responsibility for establishing communication between appropriate agency personnel and for coordinating the various interactions that may be required to prepare a necessarily more complex proposal: ascertaining the nature and levels of commitment to the proposed project by each source, consideration of funding timing and review cycles; planning for managing staggered funding from different sources; and being responsive to various reporting demands.

The proposal must clearly establish the linkage between digital libraries research and the larger effort under consideration.


Proposals will be evaluated by panels of experts representing all sponsoring agencies, with mail reviews solicited as necessary. Cost sharing is encouraged and will be considered in evaluating proposals; multi-institutional proposals are encouraged to have cost-sharing of at least 25 percent. Cost sharing must be from non-Federal funds.

Evaluation criteria applied to all NSF proposals listed in Grant Proposal Guide, NSF 98-2, are:

  1. What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?

    How important is the proposed activity to advancing knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields? How well qualified is the proposer (individual or team) to conduct the project? (If appropriate, the reviewer will comment on the quality of prior work.) To what extent does the proposed activity suggest and explore creative and original concepts? How well conceived and organized is the proposed activity? Is there sufficient access to resources?

  2. What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?

    How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while promoting teaching, training, and learning? How well does the proposed activity broaden the participation of underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic, etc.)? To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and education, such as facilities, instrumentation, networks, and partnerships? Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and technological understanding? What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?

Additional Criteria For This Announcement

  1. Creativity and Originality.

    Proposals should represent new and innovative research, designed to open new areas of activity in the digital library field.

  2. Information Utility

    The commercial, educational, or scientific value of the information used should be as high as possible to as many users as possible, and support needs and goals of our society.

  3. Metrics

    Each project should present a plan for evaluating and measuring the effect of the work done.

Additional Criteria For Group Awards

In general, group and multi-institutional proposals involving significantly large and valuable collections are expected to show potential for novel functionalities and features, identifiable user clienteles, interoperability, scaling, extensibility, and durability, and a detailed description of how these resources might eventually be made available to and used by others. These proposals should, as appropriate include active participation from client groups, technology vendors, commercial enterprises, and private or governmental archival establishments. The proposals will also be evaluated based on:

  1. Survivability

    Credibility of the plan for continuing the services to the user community after the expiration of research funding.

  2. Impact

    Potential for general impact on the development of techniques, environments or paradigms that will advance the utilization of digital libraries.

  3. Cohesiveness and Management

    The extent to which the group is integrated, has a common focus and the quality of management and coordination plans.

  4. Education and Training

    The degree to which research and education are integrated and activities involve participation and training of students.

Proposals which are initially funded at a level exceeding $1,000,000 per year for three or more years will be evaluated based on the proposed work plan by teams of experts midway through the term of the project to determine performance levels. Funding for the balance of the project term may be revised based on this evaluation. All publications, reports, data and other output from all awards must be prepared in digital format and meet general requirements for storage, indexing, searching and retrieval.


Special regional briefings will be held relative to this announcement. These briefings will begin in March 1998. Locations and schedules will be posted on the sponsor announcement web sites. (see below)


The following Web sites of the sponsoring Federal agencies provide additional information about this announcement and related activities and programs of support.








NSF awards will stipulate that the awardee is responsible for contributing the specified and agreed upon amount of cost sharing during the award period. In light of this requirement, NSF funds will not be awarded until required cost sharing commitments have been assured. A letter from an institutional officer stating the amount and source of eligible cost sharing, and assuring availability and commitment of these funds during the proposed award period must accompany the signed cover sheet for an award recommendation to be processed. In addition, NSF award conditions may specify special reports, on-site inspections, or other requirements.

NSF requires prospective grantees to furnish, upon request by NSF's Division of Grants and Agreements, basic organization and management information that will assist the NSF Grant Officers in assessing their financial and managerial responsibility. These requirements are described in the NSF Grant Policy Manual (July 1995), particularly Chapters IV and V. Grants awarded as a result of this solicitation are administered in accordance with the terms and conditions of NSF GC-1, "Grant General Conditions," or FDP-III, "Federal Demonstration Partnership General Terms and Conditions," depending on the grantee organization. Any Cooperative Agreement resulting from this announcement must comply with NSF GC-1 and Cooperative Agreement General Conditions, CA-1.


The Foundation provides awards for research in the sciences and engineering. The awardee is wholly responsible for the conduct of such research and preparation of the results for publication. The Foundation, therefore, does not assume responsibility for the research findings or their interpretation.

The Foundation welcomes proposals from all qualified scientists and engineers and strongly encourages women, minorities, and persons with disabilities to compete fully in any of the research related programs described here. In accordance with federal statutes, regulations, and NSF policies, no person on grounds of race, color, age, sex, national origin, or disability shall be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subject to discrimination under any program or activity receiving financial assistance from the National Science Foundation.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities (investigators and other staff, including student research assistants) to work on NSF projects. See the program announcement or contact the program coordinator at (703) 306-1636.

Privacy Act and Public Burden. The information requested on proposal forms is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. It will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals and may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the review process; to applicant institutions/grantees; to provide or obtain data regarding the application review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers, and researchers as necessary to complete assigned work; and to other government agencies in order to coordinate programs. See Systems of Records, NSF 50, Principal Investigators/Proposal File and Associated Records, and NSF-51, 60 Federal Register 4449 (January 23, 1995). Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records, 59 Federal Register 8031 (February 17, 1994). Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of your receiving an award.

Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding this burden estimate or any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to Gail A. McHenry, Reports Clearance Officer, Information Dissemination Branch, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 245, Arlington, VA 22230.

The National Science Foundation has TDD (Telephonic Device for the Deaf) capability, which enables individuals with hearing impairment to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment, or general information. To access NSF TDD, dial (703) 306-0090; for FIRS, 1-800-877-8339.

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Numbers:
47.070 Computer and Information Science and Engineering
47.075 Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
47.076 Education and Human Resources

OMB# 3145-0058
P.T. (34) and K.W.(1000000,0400000,0300000) codes from the Grants Keyword Thesaurus
NSF 98-63


National Science Foundation

Stephen M. Griffin
National Science Foundation
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 703-306-1930
Fax: 703-306-0599

Herbert H. Richtol (undergraduate education planning testbeds and applications)
National Science Foundation
Division of Undergraduate Education
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 703-306-1666
Fax: 703-306-0445

William Sims Bainbridge
Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences
4201 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22230

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 703-306-1741
Fax: 703-306-0495

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Ronald L. Larsen
3701 N. Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22203

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 703-696-2227
Fax: 703-696-2202

National Library of Medicine

Milton Corn
Associate Director
National Library of Medicine
Rm 5N505, Bldg 38A
Bethesda, MD 20894

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 301-496-4621
Fax: 301-402-2952

Library of Congress

Laura Campbell
Director, National Digital Library
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 202-707-3300
Fax: 202-707-0815

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

William Feiereisen
Ames Research Center
Mail Stop 269-3
Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 650-604-4225
Fax: 650-604-4036

National Endowment For the Humanities

George Farr
Division of Preservation and Access
National Endowment for the Humanities
Room 411
Washington, D. C. 20506

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 202-606-8570
Fax: 202-606-8639


Jeffrey Field
Deputy Director
Division of Preservation and Access
National Endowment for the Humanities
Room 411
Washington, D. C. 20506

Electronic mail:
Telephone: 202-606-8442
Fax: 202-606-8639