Grants: Support for Writing & Application



Valuable library staff time and resources are poured into the grant-application process, which is an increasingly critical element of their researchers’ work. This roundtable discussion will bring together information professionals to talk about the challenges they face, the tools and resources that are available, and the trends they see in this context.

Speakers: Gillian Harrison Cain, Director of Member Programs, Atla; Bess de Farber, Author of Creating Fundable Grant Proposals; Mitch Fraas, Senior Curator, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania; and Carly Strasser, Program Manager for Open Science, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.


Event Sessions

Roundtable Discussion


Mitch Fraas

Senior Curator, Kislak Center
University of Pennsylvania

The discussion by participants touched on the following:

What should libraries or other organizations know about the current funding and about those who fund projects? What is the current landscape and how has it changed over the past 5-10 years? From the funder’s perspective, what is the fundamental challenge in determining how funds will be or should be allocated?

To properly orient our audience, can you lay out what the various elements and/or phases of a grant application process might be? (Developing the concept, project planning, proposal planning, final submission etc. – what might I have left out from that very short, likely incomplete list?) How do you explain that process to those new to this activity? 

What institutional resources are needed when engaging with an application process? 

What skills are necessary to the grant application process? Where does the process most often go wrong?

In an ideal world, what are the things that a grant applicant (whether faculty or information professional) will have thought about before approaching a grants support librarian or a funder’s program officer? What should they have included in their very early mental preparation? What kind of resources do they need? (Getting a grant takes more than an idea, it requires advance thought of how you’d actually put the idea into action. Where would a sensible grant applicant begin? How do they identify a good match in a funding body?)

Once you’ve identified a potential funding source, how do you get to know the priorities, the people? How do you establish the necessary relationships? (It’s one thing if you are a non-profit association and can travel, but most librarians won’t be traveling to conferences. What can they do instead?) 

What’s the right thing to do (in terms of follow-up) when an application has been rejected? Can an applicant learn why their proposal might have not have received funding this particular year?

What are the best information resources for working through the grant process? 

What are the best tips for success? Is there a formula? 

Additional Information

NISO assumes organizations register as a group. The model assumes that an unlimited number of staff will be watching the live broadcast in a single location, but also includes access to an archived recording of the event for those who may have timing conflicts. 

NISO understands that, during the current pandemic, staff at a number of organizations may be practicing safe social distancing or working remotely. To accommodate those workers, we are allowing registrants to share the sign-on instructions with all colleagues so that they may join the broadcast directly. 

Registrants receive sign-on instructions via email on the Friday prior to the virtual event. If you have not received your instructions by the day before an event, please contact NISO headquarters for assistance via email ( 

Registrants for an event may cancel participation and receive a refund (less $35.00) if the notice of cancellation is received at NISO HQ ( one full week prior to the event date. If received less than 7 days before, no refund will be provided. 

Links to the archived recording of the broadcast are distributed to registrants 24-48 hours following the close of the live event. Access to that recording is intended for internal use of fellow staff at the registrant’s organization or institution. Speaker presentations are posted to the NISO event page.

Broadcast Platform

NISO uses the Zoom platform for purposes of broadcasting our live events. Zoom provides apps for a variety of computing devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) To view the broadcast, you will need a device that supports the Zoom app. Attendees may also choose to listen just to audio on their phones. Sign-on credentials include the necessary dial-in numbers, if that is your preference. Once notified of their availability, recordings may be downloaded from the Zoom platform to your machine for local viewing.