CFP Released: January 7th, 2020
Informational Webinar: January 21st, 2020, 3:30PM-4:30PM EST (Recording and Slides)

Applications due: February 17th, 2020, 8PM Eastern
Applicants notified by: February 28th, 2020
Award period start: April 1st, 2020
Workshop: May 15th, 2020, Pittsburgh, PA
Award period end: February 1st, 2021


Civic Switchboard: Connecting Libraries and Community Information Networks is an Institute of Museum and Library Services supported effort that aims to develop the capacity of academic and public libraries in civic data ecosystems. Learn more about the project at our website.

We believe that libraries and library workers are well-suited to make important contributions around civic data, including helping people discover civic information, building data literacy and technical skills, providing technical assistance in data management and documentation, creating feedback mechanisms to data publishers, convening and hosting events, and connecting data users. However, many libraries have just started to play these roles in their local communities, and we’d like to add momentum to that process.

Between 2017-2019, we hosted two workshops and funded nine library projects for library and data intermediary teams across the country. This second round of Field Project awards extends this work.


In this round, we will support six Field Projects, and the awards will combine a stipend for project support with a workshop for awardees facilitated by the Civic Switchboard team.


The Field Project awards are intended to increase your library’s role as a key participant in your civic data ecosystem. We are looking for projects that demonstrate a commitment to understanding and engaging with local ecosystems. Getting familiar with our blog posts and guide will give you a better picture of the kinds of activities our project aims to support. Specifically, we encourage you to check out our Library Roles and Case Studies to get ideas for potential projects – but don’t feel limited to what’s on this list. You should also feel free to get in touch with any questions:


This cycle of Field Projects includes a workshop, to be held in Pittsburgh, PA on May 15, 2020, for the awarded project teams. Each awarded project must commit to participating in the workshop with a team comprised of one library worker and one non-library civic data intermediary.*

In the workshop, the teams will incubate new local data partnerships, get a better handle on their own civic data ecosystem, and learn from innovative peers across the country. The workshop is an opportunity to connect with librarians and civic data intermediaries across the country embarking on similar work.

*If your project has multiple partners, an additional team member representing another partner organization may be accepted to attend the workshop. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis; please discuss this with the Civic Switchboard team.


The organization applying for the award must be a public, academic, state library, or regional library system located in the United States.

Team members representing the library and civic data organization must be able to attend the workshop in Pittsburgh, PA on May 15th.

Previous Civic Switchboard Field Project awardees and workshop attendees are eligible, but priority will be given to applicants that have not received a prior Field Project award.

If you have questions about the eligibility of your library please check with the Civic Switchboard Project team at We will publicly share anonymized questions and our responses at the end of this page as we receive them. We will respond to all questions received by February 15th, 8PM EST.


  • Civic Switchboard will be awarding six projects at $9,000 each.
  • In addition, each team will be provided with a $2,000 stipend to support travel expenses and lodging for a workshop in Pittsburgh, PA on May 15th, 2020.


In addition to performing the proposed work, each awarded project team will be required to:

  • Participate in the workshop in Pittsburgh, PA on May 15th, 2020.
  • Participate in scheduled check-in calls with the project team.
  • Write a project report (2-4 pages); this information will inform case studies that will become part of the Civic Switchboard guide.
  • Provide feedback to Civic Switchboard’s evaluator – mostly likely via a phone interview or an online survey.
  • The library partner will receive and manage the project award and workshop stipend. The library will distribute the award and stipend to partner organization(s) as appropriate.


Please create a single PDF file that contains all of the following:

  • Project narrative (No more than 1000 words)
    The proposed project must be a new project, or a new component of an existing project and connect, in scope, to one or more of the Civic Switchboard Library Roles. Your project must be a collaboration with at least one partner organization from your local civic data ecosystem. Please make sure your narrative addresses the following:
    • Project name
    • Team members and organizations
    • Project Description - Briefly summarize the activities you plan to implement and your project goals. Will you leverage an existing model, standard, or product, or will the content be developed from scratch?
    • Roles - What roles will the core partners play? Who else will you need to work with to implement your project and what role(s) will these additional partners play? Will your partnerships or collaborations require any formal agreements?
    • Target audience - Who will attend your event, benefit from your service, participate in your activity, or use your tool or data? How will you reach your target audience?
    • Equity and Inclusion - Explain how the project advances principles of diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion
    • Logistics - What locations, facility requirements, materials, equipment, and infrastructure will be needed to create and implement your project?
    • Resources - Provide a high-level summary of anticipated expenses for your project. If the award will be used as a piece of a larger budget, be clear about how the award fits within the overall picture.
    • Timeline - List the steps in your work plan with associated dates. What are important milestones?
    • Measuring success - How will you measure success, and what types of indicators will you use? How do you imagine success in this project will set you up for future work?
  • Biographical sketches for project team members (a short CV is acceptble)

  • Organizational profiles (No more than 250 words for each organizational profile)

  • Letter of commitment (from the from the Library Director or person with administrative authority to commit the library to completing the work described in the application)


Please send your application materials as an attachment to with the subject line: 2020 Field Project Proposal - [LIBRARY NAME and PROJECT NAME] You will be notified that your application has been received.


Applications will be reviewed by the Civic Switchboard project team. During the review process, the team will consider the strengths of each application in the following areas:

  • Feasibility of project plan, timeline, and budget
  • Alignment with Civic Switchboard Library Roles
  • Potential impact of project in local ecosystem
  • Ways that the project embodies and addresses the importance of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion
  • Contribution to the overall community, geographic, and library diversity within the 2020 Field Project cohort


(Please contact if you need any clarification or have any further questions)

Is recording of the webinar available?
Yes! Recording and Slides

Are past workshop participants eligible for field awards?
Yes, participants from the two Civic Switchboard workshops in 2018 are eligible for Field Project awards. Past 2019 Field Project awardees are also eligible but preference will be to teams who have not received a previous Field Project award.

Could a public library consortium partner with a state library agency?
Yes, however a non-library partner should also be part of the partnership.

What about a library school as lead applicant with academic library and public library partners?
The organization applying for the award should be a public, academic, state library, or regional library system located in the United States. If there is a reason the library partner is not able to administer the award please get in touch to discuss your situation.

Should the proposed project deal with a number of civic data partners to assess various issues in the community or one specific partner? For example, one partnership could potentially be with an organization dealing with the ocean ecosystem to deal with preservation and conservation in the local community. In addition, local crime and traffic open data could partner with police departments. And information literacy with news organizations could work with local journalists in the area.

The number of partners and the way they are engaged in the proposed project will vary depending on your local ecosystem. The Field Project application requires there are at least two partners (one library and one non-library civic data partner). The project may be a piece of a larger existing project or it may be new work. One of the criteria for evaluation will be feasibility to complete the project in allotted time, so we encourage your team to think through this as you work through your proposal.

Are for-profits eligible for award?
The applicant for a field project award must be a public, academic, state library, or regional library system.

Can the funding be awarded to our Library Foundation?
The lead organization needs to be a public, academic, state or regional library and that is who will need to be the recipient of the funds, if an award is made. If your library does not have this capacity please provide more context so we can better understand your situation.

How can we use awarded funds?
Below are the ways we expect funding to be used* - if you are proposing something different, please check in with the Civic Switchboard Project Team -

  • Project personnel (contract or in-house) whose time is necessary for the proper and efficient execution of the project;
  • Course buyouts, summer session salary;
  • Project consultants;
  • Project-related travel of key project staff and consultants;
  • Purchase of equipment, materials, supplies, or services;
  • Workshops, conference attendance, and other professional development activities;
  • Mentoring programs/internships/residencies/fellowships;
  • Educational materials, staff time, and supplies for sharing the impact of the activities;
  • Evaluation to show the extent to which the project has met its goals;
  • Dissemination/communication activities;
  • Publications based on project activities;
  • Preservation of digital assets; and
  • Indirect or overhead costs.

*This list comes from the IMLS; primary funder of the Civic Switchboard Project.