British Library Endangered Archives Programme

The purpose of the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) is to secure, digitise, and make available for research endangered, pre-modern archival material from around the world. Each year, the Programme awards grants to preserve and digitise such material. Where
appropriate, the collections are transferred to a suitable local archive. The local archival partner makes digital copies of the material available in the country where the archive is located and the British Library makes these archives available on the EAP website for international access and research.

The programme aims to train and develop the people working on each project so that they have the skills and equipment required to carry out archival preservation beyond the scope of the EAP. Applicants are expected to include plans for professional development and training (in areas such as digitisation, cataloguing and/or preservation) within their proposals.

Scope and Objectives

The Programme will consider a wide variety of material types:

  • rare printed sources (books, serials, newspapers, maps, ephemera, etc.)
  • manuscripts in any language
  • visual materials (drawings, paintings, prints, posters, photographs, etc.)
  • audio or video recordings
  • other objects and artefacts, normally only where they are found in association with a documentary archive.

The Programme will not fund:

  • the creation of oral histories (as the main focus of a project)
  • the digitisation of modern material.

In all cases, material should be from the pre-modern stage of a society's development.

Applications focusing on photographic collections should show how the collections shed light on a pre-industrial society. Any proposals focusing on material from a later period must demonstrate that the material is exceptionally vulnerable and significant.

The Programme will consider supporting the preservation of archives held in any nonwestern society. Material can be on any theme or aspect of culture so long as the archive meets the criteria outlined above.

A fundamental principle is that no original archival material may leave its country of origin. The only exception is if there is no alternative to removing the material temporarily for digitisation.

Digital copies must be made available at an appropriate and established institution in the country of origin. A second digital copy must be sent to the British Library. The digital master copies normally stay within the country of origin. The British Library copies will be made
available for the types of use and access specified in the Award Conditions.

The Programme will only fund digitisation of material that can be made available online. If there are copyright or privacy restrictions that prevent this, the material may not be digitised.

There may be cases when it is difficult or inappropriate to relocate endangered or inaccessible material. The Programme will accept applications to copy the material so that it can be secured and accessed more widely. In such cases, copies should be provided to the
relevant archives and owners as well as the local archival partner. The application should include provision for improving the storage conditions of the original material.


There are three main types of grant:

  • Pilot projects investigate the potential for and/or feasibility of a larger grant. A pilot can also be a small digitisation project. They should last for no more than 12 months and have a budget limit of £15,000.
  • Major projects gather, digitise, and make available material. This type of grant may also relocate the material to a more secure location/institution within the country. These projects usually last 12 months and no more than 24 months. They have a budget limit of £60,000.
  • Area grants may be awarded for larger-scale projects. They are similar to a major grant, but larger in scale and ambition. Applicants must demonstrate an outstanding track record of archival preservation work and be associated with an institution that has the capacity to facilitate a large-scale project. The EAP will award a maximum of two area grants in this round. They can last for up to 24 months and have a budget limit of £150,000. It is important that you contact the EAP office if you are considering applying for this type of grant. Proposals that have not been discussed with EAP staff ahead of the closing date are unlikely to be successful.

Grants awarded in this round are expected to start in October 2019.

During 2019, the programme will offer an additional type of grant:

  • Rapid response grants may be used to safeguard an archive that is in immediate and severe danger. These grants are intended for the situations in which the time scale of the standard EAP decision process could result in extensive damage to the material. These grants will be accepted on a rolling basis. They must last for less than 12 months and have a budget limit of £15,000. This type of grant will be available for the first time in 2019 and EAP anticipates awarding a small number of such grants during the first year.

How to Apply

The call for applications under Round 15 is now open. Please ensure you have read all guidance and grant agreement template before you apply.

Application Process

EAP uses a two-stage grant application process. In the first stage, you submit a preliminary application. These are short applications that outline the proposed activity. Following review, a subset of applicants are invited to progress gto the second stage and submit a detailed application. These longer documents provide a full description of the project including content to be digitised (showing a fit to the programme, the case for endangerment, and research value), the project team (demonstrating you will have the needed skills), the project plan, and the budget. It is especially important to provide clear evidence of rights and permissions to digitise and make the digitised content available. The detailed applicants are reviewed and vetted by an extended expert team.

Applicants are encouraged to contact the EAP team with any questions that they might have. Our goal is to help you to create strong clear proposals that lead to successful projects.

To get an idea, in recent years we have seen around 120 preliminary applicants. Of these around 60 are invited to submit detailed applications and 30 grants are awarded.

Schedule for Round 15

  • 24 September 2018: Call for applications opens
  • 19 November 2018: Closing date for submissions at midday GMT
  • 21 December 2018: Successful applicants will be notified and invited to submit a detailed application
  • 15 February 2019: Deadline for detailed applications at midday GMT
  • May 2019: Notification of Panel decision

Criteria for assessing applications

Applications will be evaluated against three broad criteria:

Content of archive

The case for the material to be digitised must cover the following areas:

  • Endangerment. Demonstrate that the material is vulnerable due to human/political neglect and/or environmental threats; demonstrate that there is an urgent need to safeguard the material.
  • Research value. Demonstrate the uniqueness and cultural importance of the material and that it is/will be a valuable resource for research.
  • Age of material. Show that the material in scope for the project is pre-modern/pre-industrial.
  • Legal and ethical rights to digitise the material and make it available online for research. You must have the permission of the collection’s owners to digitise the materials and make them available. You must also describe the copyright status of the materials and whether there are any data protection issues associated with them.

Project team

You must have the following information about the team you propose to put together to work on the project:

  • Track record of principal applicant. Show that you have the experience and skills needed to carry out the project successfully. If you lack any specific skills, you may include a co-applicant provides them or other plans to fill the gaps.
  • Staffing plan. If you are assembling a new team, you must explain how this will be done and how you will ensure that your team has people with the specific skills required for the project (e.g., material handling, cataloguing, and digitising).
  • Skills within the team: You will need to identify what skills your project will require (language skills, project-management and financial skills, metadata, technical skills for handling equipment and vulnerable material). Demonstrate how you will ensure that the team you put together is made up of people who meet these requirements.
  • Knowledge within the team. Demonstrate that you and your proposed team understand the material, its condition and its research and cultural value. Indicate knowledge of the relevant languages relevant languages, and scripts of the materials in the archive.

Project plan

In the proposal you must outline an effective plan and show that you have addressed the following questions:

  • Feasibility. Do you understand the practicalities and logistics of the project? Is the time frame reasonable? Are the team available at the time specified? Has a risk assessment been done? Have all costs been taken into account? Who is going to oversee the finances at your institution?
  • Local capacity building. Wherever possible, he project should create the opportunity for future archival and digitisation work to be carried out in the region where the archive is located. Include a plan in your application for the period after the project is completed, outlining what will happen to the equipment and how the training and experience of the team will be put to further use.
  • Value for money. Provide justification for the cost of all equipment, salaries, and travel. Equipment outside of the recommended items requires a clear justification and should be cleared with EAP in advance of submission. Host Institutions should, within their means, make appropriate financial contributions to these costs.
  • Budget. Ensure that the budget is both comprehensive and realistic. Does it cover not only the costs of equipment but also of getting them through customs and to the site(s)? Have you allocated for the incidental costs such as network or electricity?  Have you got actual current costs to ensure that you are not over/under estimating?

Eligible institutions

  • A recognised non-commercial institution (educational, research or archival/library management). The institution will be directly responsible for receiving and managing the funds and submitting budget accounts to the EAP Office on a regular basis. Normally, the Principal Applicant is employed by the Host Institution.
  • In exceptional circumstances, Principal Applicants not affiliated with a recognised higher education, research or archive/library institution can apply as an Independent Researcher. In such cases, they are expected to be able to provide references, details of relevant experience and a track record of delivering past projects. Independent researchers work directly with the British Library, and receipts must be submitted with the Final Report for all items of expenditure over £100. Accounts should be independently audited before submission to the EAP office.

Eligible applicants

  • Any accredited member of teaching or research faculty, and any registered postgraduate researcher, at a recognised UK or overseas university or similar higher education institution. PhD candidates will only be considered for an award in exceptional circumstances and where the applicant has a proven track record of grant and project management. In such a case, a letter of support must be provided by their supervisor, giving approval for the candidate to undertake the project and detailing how the project relates to the PhD.
  • Archivists and librarians with responsibilities for special collections in a recognised UK or overseas archive, national or research library, or similar institution. NB Current employees of the British Library are not eligible to apply.
  • Independent Researchers
Date de candidature
Humanités : Archéologie, Art et histoire de l'art, Etudes classiques, Numérique, Big Data, Histoire