The 2017 Catalyst Fund cycle is closed. The 2018 cycle will open on January 8, 2018. Submissions will be due by February 20, 2018.


Submissions are accepted from any member of LYRASIS in good standing. A member may submit no more than ONE proposal and ONE idea per year.

  • If submitting a Proposal Form, you are requesting funding to pilot your own project. Funds will be awarded to your organization if the project is selected by the Leaders Circle.
  • If submitting an Idea Form, you are presenting a concept that you believe will benefit the field which you would like LYRASIS to address. The institution submitting an Idea Form is not necessarily obligated to do the work. If selected by the Leaders Circle, LYRASIS staff will design an implementation plan and distribute resources as appropriate to pilot the idea.

If you wish to submit a proposal or idea to continue work on a project previously funded by the Catalyst Fund, you may apply, but the application will receive no special consideration and will be judged by the same criteria as others in the competition. The work on the prior Catalyst Fund project must be completed and the required white paper submitted to LYRASIS. In addition, the new Catalyst Fund submission must include a description of how the previously funded project met its goals and what new activities are proposed.

Criteria for Consideration

All proposals and ideas should be innovative concepts that stimulate creativity and serve the broad interests of the LYRASIS membership. Below are criteria used by the Leaders Circle for consideration and selection of projects to fund.
     For Proposals:

  • Does this proposal innovatively solve a well-defined problem or address a well-defined opportunity?
  • Does the proposal advance an important objective of the library, archives and/or museum communities?
  • What is the potential for the proposal to serve the broad LYRASIS community?
    • Is it a common and/or shared issue for members of the LYRASIS community?
    • Are the outputs scalable beyond a single institution?
  • Is the proposal of interest to others outside of your organization? Note that collaboration with other organizations is welcome, but not required.
  • Is the plan of work appropriate to the proposal's goal, and is the budget reasonable and justified?

For Ideas:

  • Does the idea support innovation in the library, archives, and/or museum fields?
  • Does this idea identify a well-defined problem or present a well-defined opportunity?
  • Does the idea advance an important objective of the library, archives and/or museum communities?
  • What is the potential for the idea to serve the broad LYRASIS community?
    • Is it a common and/or shared issue for members of the LYRASIS community?
    • Is this idea of interest to others outside of your organization?

More Information

Email with your questions.

All applications must be submitted using the appropriate LYRASIS web templates, which will be available when the application period opens on January 8, 2018. Additional submission instructions will be provided at that time. Applications will be due by midnight on February 20, 2018.
Webinars will be scheduled in January 2018 to provide additional information and answer questions.   

Volunteer to Review Proposals and Ideas

Each proposal and idea is reviewed and rated by multiple field experts to identify those of greatest interest to the field prior to voting by the Leaders Circle. This review happens after the application period closes, typically in late March and/or early April. Reviewers receive a subset of all submissions (6-10 two-page proposals or ideas), aligned to the reviewers’ expertise whenever possible. An online survey form is provided to rate proposals and ideas according to the criteria listed above. Reviewers also have the opportunity to provide comments that can be shared with the applicants.

To volunteer, complete this short form so we know what areas you’re most interested in reviewing.

After you register, LYRASIS will contact you in late February to confirm your availability during the anticipated review period. A short webinar will be offered to go over the review process. An email will follow with a link to the review form and PDFs of the proposals or ideas for your review.  

If your institution submits a proposal or idea, you won’t be eligible to review in that cycle.


What is the Catalyst Fund?

The Catalyst Fund is a program administered by LYRASIS and LYRASIS Leaders Circle members. The Fund is designed to identify and foster new ideas to benefit the archives, library and museum communities. LYRASIS has allocated funds from its endowment to put toward innovative projects and ideas from its members that can be shared to help advance the field.Join the Leaders Circle today to be sure you are a part of this exciting new program.

How much is available for projects?

LYRASIS anticipates awarding $100,000 to $150,000 in 2018 for selected projects and ideas. This amount may change year-to-year. We anticipate making four to six awards in 2018. The maximum amount that can be requested is $100,000. The average award in 2017 was $22,400.

Who is eligible?

All LYRASIS members in good standing may submit an idea and/or proposal and are eligible to receive awards from the Catalyst Fund.

Can group agents apply for the catalyst fund?

A group agent can apply, as they have all the same rights as an institutional member.

Can affiliates apply for the catalyst fund?

Affiliates or group participants are not members of LYRASIS and are not eligible to receive Catalyst Fund awards. They may be partners in a project sponsored by a LYRASIS Institutional or Group Agent Member. If unsure of your membership status, check the current list of LYRASIS members here or contact Member Support at

How does the community benefit?

Libraries, archives and museums around the country will benefit by seeing, learning and trying out new ideas that might otherwise have never seen the light of day because institutions have barriers to implementation such as limited staff time, budget or expertise. All projects and ideas will be shared with the full LYRASIS membership upon completion. Additionally, technologies and content developed will be open and available to all.

Who determines which ideas and projects are funded?

Members of the LYRASIS Leaders Circle will select which proposals and ideas receive Catalyst Fund awards. The Leaders Circle is a new level of LYRASIS membership created to serve libraries, archives and museums that are seeking a more active role in collaboration, innovation and stewardship of open technologies, services and content.

How does the community benefit?

Libraries, archives and museums will benefit by seeing, learning and trying out new approaches and concepts developed and tested through the Catalyst Fund. The results of all projects funded through the Catalyst Fund – proposals and ideas -- will be shared with the full LYRASIS membership upon completion. Additionally, technologies and content developed will be open and available to all.

What's the timeframe for implementing funded proposals?

The maximum timeframe for a project is 12 months. The Leaders Circle will select projects to fund and winners will be announced in May 2018. Projects can begin as soon as funds are disbursed. All funded projects will report on accomplishments at the annual LYRASIS Member Summit in October of each year. 2018 project activities should be completed no later than June 30, 2019.

Do I have to implement the idea?

No. While proposals are expected to be implemented by the applicant and its partners, funded ideas will be implemented under the oversight of LYRASIS staff. LYRASIS may elect to implement the idea directly, work with your organization or other members to implement the idea, or contract with a third party to do initial research and/or testing. Your organization’s participation in design and testing of your idea is completely optional and not a factor considered as part of the idea selection process. The idea application form includes a place for you to indicate your interest in working with LYRASIS if your idea is selected for funding.

Budget FAQs

Will the Catalyst Fund cover overhead or indirect expenses?

No. The Catalyst Fund will not cover overhead costs or indirect expenses.

Indirect costs, also called overhead or "facilities and administrative costs," are defined as administrative or other expenses that are cannot be directly tied or allocated to a specific program, project or activity. Instead, they are related to overall general operations and are shared among projects, programs and/or functions. Examples include expenses for executive oversight, accounting, utilities, shared technology and systems support, and facility maintenance. Some organizations may have a negotiated indirect cost rate with a federal government agency.

What are capital expenditures and can they be included in the Catalyst Fund budget?

Capital expenditures are expenses that result in the acquisition of longer-lived assets, those that have a useful life in excess of one year, such as property, buildings, equipment, furniture and fixtures. Expenses that are capitalized are amortized or depreciated over multiple years based on the expected life of the asset. Capital expenses cannot be included in the Catalyst Fund budget.

How do I apply?

Applications will be accepted from January 8 through February 20, 2018. Links to application forms will be provided here by January 8, 2018. Please contact with questions.
Will LYRASIS review a draft?
Yes, LYRASIS staff will review draft applications if submitted prior to February 6, 2018. Drafts should be sent as MS-Word documents to Drafts are not required. Comments provided will be suggestions only and do not imply any specific outcome from the review and selection process.