The 2020 application cycle for the Catalyst Fund is closed. Awards will be announced in June 2020. The next cycle will open in early 2021. Information below describes the 2020 cycle and is provided for general reference only. Questions? Contact


Submissions are accepted from any member of LYRASIS in good standing, including eligible members of DuraSpace.

A member may submit no more than ONE proposal and ONE idea per year.

  • If submitting a proposal, you are requesting funds to pilot your own project. Funds will be awarded to your organization if the project is selected.

  • If submitting an idea, you are recommending an issue, problem, service need or solution that LYRASIS could investigate, test, and address for the library, archive and/or museum fields. If selected, ideas will be included in LYRASIS’ Research and Development agenda for exploration, planning, program design, and piloting. Your organization may have the option, but would not be obligated, to participate in the resulting program, service or solution.

If you wish to submit a proposal or idea to continue work on a project previously funded by the Catalyst Fund, you may apply. Such applications 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 the previously funded project’s accomplishments and what new activities are proposed.

Catalyst Fund: The Application Process & Overview Webinar (January 15, 2020)

Catalyst Fund: The Applican Process & Overview Webinar (PPT)

Criteria for Consideration

All proposals and ideas should be innovative concepts that demonstrate creativity and serve the broad interests of the LYRASIS membership. Successful applications embody the values of the LYRASIS community, including impact, service, collaboration, respect, inclusion, and diversity.

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  is interested in projects that cross boundaries and engage diverse organizations in partnerships to expand the impact of innovative solutions for libraries, archives, museums, and complementary research communities. 

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 idea 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?
    • Could a sustainable solution or business model evolve to support the idea long-term? 

How to Apply

Applications for the 2020 Catalyst Fund will be accepted through midnight EST on February 20, 2020. Members are asked to complete a brief online application form and provide a two-page PDF describing their proposal or idea.

For Proposals:

  • Review the Instructions for Proposals.
  • Create your proposal. You may use this optional template (MS Word format) or create your own document using the same outline. Your final proposal should be formatted as a PDF.
  • Apply using this online form (deactivated) for submitting a proposal.

For Ideas:

  • Review the Instructions for Ideas.
  • Describe your idea. You may use this optional template (MS Word format) or create your own document using the same outline. Your final idea narrative should be formatted as a PDF.
  • Apply using this online form (deactivated) for submitting an idea.

LYRASIS staff will review draft proposals and ideas if submitted by February 7, 2020, two weeks prior to the application deadline.

A free "Catalyst Fund: The Application Process and Overview" webinar will be held in January or February 2020. Check the LYRASIS Class listing for dates and times. The recording will be posted here following the event.

Reviewing and Selecting 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 rate applications according to the relevant (proposal or idea) criteria listed above.

  • Proposal reviewers include field experts, Leaders Circle members, and LYRASIS staff. Each volunteer reviewer receives a subset of all submissions aligned to their expertise. To volunteer to review proposals, complete this short form to register. LYRASIS will contact reviewers following the Catalyst Fund application period to confirm availability. See Become a Reviewer for more information. If a reviewer's institution submits a proposal, he or she will not be eligible to review in that cycle.

    Reviewers' rankings are used to identify the proposals of greatest interest to the field. The top ranked proposals are voted upon by the Leaders Circle, which determines what projects will be funded.

  • Idea reviewers include LYRASIS staff, Trustees, and Leaders Circle members. Reviewers are selected to provide different perspectives on ideas, such as from potential users, related work in the field, and business planning. Individuals submitting an idea will not be eligible to review other ideas.

    Reviewers' feedback is presented to the LYRASIS Leadership team, which recommends top ideas to the Board of Trustees. The Board determines which ideas will be included in the LYRASIS Research and Development agenda for the upcoming fiscal year.


What is the Catalyst Fund?

The Catalyst Fund provides financial support for new ideas and innovative projects from the LYRASIS membership. Led by the LYRASIS Leaders Circle, the Fund expands opportunities to share expertise and collaborate on innovations with potential for community-wide impact.  

How much is available for projects?

LYRASIS anticipates awarding approximately $150,000 in the 2020 cycle for multiple projects. This amount may change year-to-year. The maximum amount that can be requested is $100,000. The average award in 2019 was $25,274.

Who is eligible?

All LYRASIS members in good standing, including DuraSpace members, are eligible to submit ideas or proposals and 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, contact Member Support.

How many proposals and ideas can an institution submit?

Members may submit a maximum of ONE proposal and ONE idea per cycle. 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 apply 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. Proposals or ideas for continued work should address the accomplishments of the previously funded project and highlight how new activities proposed build from the preceding project. If it is a new project proposing work in a different area unrelated to the preceding Catalyst Fund award, there are no prerequisite requirements.

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 2020. Projects should be planned around a July 1, 2020, start date. All funded projects will report on accomplishments at the annual LYRASIS Member Summit in October of each year. Final reports for sharing project results with the membership will be due in August 2021.

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 up to two weeks before the application deadline (by February 7, 2020). 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 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.

If my proposal is funded, what terms are required of my organization?

If your proposal is selected for funding, the applicant organization agrees to:

  • Provide a final written report and webinar presentation, openly accessible under a Creative Commons attribution license, for sharing with the community on the LYRASIS website.
  • Present results via an in-person presentation at the 2019 LYRASIS Member Summit either directly or through a LYRASIS-approved representative.
  • Make available any software products created with Catalyst Funds on a royalty-free basis according to the terms of an open source license and in an open source repository (such as GitHub).
  • Be financially responsible and use the funds specifically for the project as approved.
  • Communicate and/or meet regularly with an appointed LYRASIS staff liaison during the project period, as mutually agreed-upon at the start of the project.

Applicants submitting proposals are asked to agree to these terms as part of the online submission form.

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 $25,274, so a $100,000 request will need to be very compelling for Leaders Circle consideration.

Can the budget include expenses related to project staffing?

Yes, staff costs (salaries and wages, benefits) may be included in your Catalyst Fund budget.

Why is the budget required to include travel for the LYRASIS Member Summit?

Plans and accomplishments from Catalyst Fund projects are presented to the Leaders Circle and LYRASIS members at the annual Member Summit, usually held in October. $1,200 is recommended as the typical cost for one person to attend the two-day Summit, including airfare, hotel, and out-of-pocket expenses. If you anticipate your cost would be higher, you may include a higher rate with justification.

LYRASIS requests that your project be represented by at least one person at the Member Summit. If you have co-investigators or collaborators and want two representatives, you may increase the budget line accordingly.

If, after the Summit, you have not used all of the Summit travel line, unexpended funds may be applied towards other areas of your Catalyst Fund budget.

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.

Other budget exclusions:

Funds cannot be used to reimburse costs incurred prior to the award date or to support lobbying and political activity.

If you are unsure about the eligibility of a potential budget line item, contact us at