The 2019 Catalyst Fund is now closed. The next Catalyst Fund cycle will be in early 2020.
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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, you are requesting funding to pilot your own project. Funds will be awarded to your organization if the project is selected.

  • If submitting an Idea, you are recommending a service, program or consortial solution that will benefit the field which LYRASIS could provide. If selected, LYRASIS will design the program, service or solution and pilot it for all members.

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 final report submitted. 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.

Evaluation Criteria for Proposals:

  • Does this proposal innovatively test-and-try a solution to a well-defined problem or opportunity?

  • Does the proposal advance an important objective of the library, archive and/or museum communities?

  • What is the potential for the proposal to impact and 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?

  • Is the plan of work appropriate to the proposal's goal, and the budget reasonable and justified?

The LYRASIS Leaders Circle may recommend areas of special interest for upcoming cycles. In 2019, they were interested in projects that crossed organizational boundaries and engaged diverse types of libraries, archives and museums in partnerships to expand the impact of innovative solutions to shared challenges. 

Evaluation Criteria for Ideas:

  • Does this idea identify a well-defined problem or present a well-defined opportunity for LYRASIS and its members?

  • Does the idea innovatively advance an important objective of the library, archive and/or museum communities?

  • What is the potential for the proposed program, service or consortial opportunity to serve the broad LYRASIS community?

    • Is it a common and/or shared issue for members of the LYRASIS community?

    • Is the idea of interest to others outside of your organization?

    • Is the solution sustainable or can a sustainable business model evolve to support it long-term? 

How to Apply

Applications are typically accepted in the January through February timeframe. Members are asked to complete a brief online application form and provide a two-page PDF describing their project or idea.

Links below are examples only. Updated instructions and forms will be provided prior to the 2020 Catalyst Fund cycle.

For Proposals:

For Ideas:

"Catalyst Fund: The Application Process and Overview" webinars were held for the 2019 cycle. Recordings are below.

​Volunteer to Review Proposals and Ideas

Each proposal and idea will be reviewed and rated by multiple experts to identify those of greatest interest to the field. This review happens after the application period closes, typically during March and April. Reviewers receive a subset of all submissions aligned to their expertise. An online survey form is provided to rate proposals and ideas according to the criteria listed above.

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

LYRASIS will contact you following the relevant Catalyst Fund application period 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 Leaders Circle members. The Fund is designed to foster new ideas that will benefit the archive, library and museum communities. Catalyst Fund awards support LYRASIS members as they test and try innovative approaches to advance our field. 

How much is available for projects?

LYRASIS anticipates making four to six awards or approximately $100,000 each cycle. This amount may change year-to-year. The maximum amount that can be requested is $100,000. The average award in 2017-2018 was $25,640.

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?

Yes, a group agent can apply.

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 or contact Member Support.

How many proposals and ideas can my institution submit?

LYRASIS members may submit a maximum of ONE proposal and ONE idea. If multiple proposals or ideas are submitted by a member, LYRASIS will contact the individuals who submitted and request that they choose one to go forward for review. The proposal or idea that the institution defers may be re-submitted in next year’s Catalyst Fund cycle.

If my project or idea is funded this year, can I submit another proposal or idea next year?

Yes, past recipients can reapply in subsequent years for new or continuing projects.

If applying for a second phase of a project that was already awarded Catalyst Funds, the required final report for the initial award must be complete and submitted to LYRASIS for sharing with the membership. If it is a new project proposing work in a different area unrelated to the preceding Catalyst Fund award, there are no prerequisite requirements.

Who determines which ideas and projects are funded?

All submissions are reviewed by field experts. Their input is provided to the Leaders Circle, which makes final selections among proposals. LYRASIS Board of Trustees and staff will determine which Ideas to pursue.

What's the timeframe for implementing funded proposals?

Proposed projects should be no longer than 12 months.

Catalyst Fund recipients will be announced in early June. 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.

Do I have to implement the idea?

No. While proposals are to be implemented by the applicant and its partners, selected ideas will be implemented by LYRASIS staff. LYRASIS may elect to implement the idea directly, work with members to plan or test 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.

​​Will LYRASIS review a draft?

Yes, LYRASIS staff will review draft applications. 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.

How do LYRASIS members benefit?

Libraries, archives and museums benefit by learning from new approaches and concepts developed and tested through the Catalyst Fund. The results of all Catalyst Fund projects are shared with the LYRASIS membership upon completion (see completed 2017 projects and in-process 2018 projects). Presentation materials from the Member Summit, final project reports, and links to project websites and open source code repositories are made freely available to disseminate results and provide models for local adaptation.

Budget FAQs

How much can I request for a proposal?

The maximum you can request is $100,000. Note that funding in the past year averaged $26,150, so a $100,000 request will need to be very compelling for Leaders Circle consideration.

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 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.

Can capital expenditures be included in the Catalyst Fund budget?

No, the Catalyst Fund cannot be used for capital expenditures.

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.