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Call for Proposals: The Library Company of Philadelphia's First Biennial Innovation Award

The Library Company of Philadelphia's First Biennial Innovation Award Call for Proposals is open until August 1, 2019.

The Library Company of Philadelphia Innovation Award will be awarded to a project that critically and creatively expands the possibilities of humanistic scholarship.

The recipient will be selected by a committee of leaders in higher education, grant-awarding organizations, and research libraries and cultural heritage institutions, and the award will include a $2,000 prize, a spotlight interview in our “Talking in the Library” podcast, and recognition at the 288th Annual Dinner of the Library Company of Philadelphia (October 29, 2019).


The committee will evaluate how a proposed project makes scholarly work new again. The scholarly work might take the form of an article, chapter, academic monograph, scholarly edition, or other project, in either print or digital form. “Innovation” will be defined broadly, and may include refashioning scholarly work with new partners (a playwright, musician, or visual artist), for new audiences (a local library, public high school, or arts collective), or into new forms (a DH project, public exhibition, or podcast series).


The committee will ask how a project challenges long-held assumptions within and across genres, fields, or disciplines. That is, we want to see interdisciplinary work. Interdisciplinarity may be expressed in the creation, production, or distribution of a project. While we do not require that projects engage the Library Company’s collections, we will preference work that traverses our collection strengths, namely: early American history, literature, and culture; political economy and visual culture; and African American and women’s history.

Evaluation will be conducted in two stages. First, a committee of five subject area specialists at the Library Company will vet the content of proposals. Second, an innovation award committee comprised of five leaders from higher education, research libraries, and non-profit institutions will evaluate proposals in terms of how effectively they critically and creatively expand the possibilities of humanistic scholarship. The members of both committees are listed below.


We welcome proposals from applicants in all fields and at all career stages, including graduate students, junior and senior faculty, as well as independent scholars. In the case of collaborative projects, we will accept multi-author proposals. (However, the prize would be shared.)

To submit a project for consideration, please send a project statement (no more than 1000 words), c.v., and one letter of reference to by August 1, 2019. Your project statement should include some consideration of your project’s values, design, methodology, and, if available, its impact. Should you have any questions, please contact Dr. William D. Fenton, Director of Scholarly Innovation, via the aforementioned email address. Announcements will be made in September 2019.

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