Council on Library and Information Resources

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CLIR/Library of Congress Mellon Fellowship

Information for Applicants

Please note: The application deadline was 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on November 29, 2012, and applications for the 2013 fellowships are no longer being accepted.

Important Documents

Application Form (Link)>>

Information for Applicants (Link)>>

Outline of the online application (PDF)>>

Reference provider guidelines (PDF)>>

Reference provider login page (Link)>>

Please note

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The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) is offering a fellowship award to support original source dissertation research in the humanities or related social sciences at the Preservation Research and Testing Division of the Preservation Directorate at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The fellowship is offered as part of CLIR's long-established Mellon Fellowship program and is generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

New technologies and methods of analysis not only help to preserve our unique books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, sound recordings, and drawings - the rich array of human expression - but also enable new interpretations of those sources. Preservation technologies such as hyperspectral imaging, environmental scanning electron microscopy, and handheld x-ray fluorescence analyzers use new forms of non-destructive or direct examination and can reveal hidden or obscured information on objects; shed new light on techniques of construction; and permit a more rigorous approach to scholarly questions concerning influence and intent.

CLIR seeks proposals from applicants whose dissertation projects will benefit from the opportunity to examine original sources using the array of new technologies and equipment available at the Library of Congress. Applicants should explain how their research will reveal previously hidden content and properties of original sources, support new interpretations of those sources, and advance scholarship in their field.

The fellow will work on-site with the professional staff in the Preservation Research and Testing Division. A mentor from the Division will work closely with the fellow, as well as the fellow's dissertation advisor(s) and other professors at the fellow's home institution, to ensure the fellow receives the training and support necessary to successfully complete the full year of research.



**NOTE TO APPLICANTS: The application deadline has been extended from 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, November 15, 2012 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, November 29, 2012 due to the widespread effects of Hurricane Sandy.

  • November 29, 2012, 5:00 p.m. Eastern time: final application deadline
  • April 1, 2013: fellowship award announced
  • June 1 - September 1, 2013: 2013 fellowship begins

How To Apply

All applications must be submitted via the online application system prior to the deadline of 5:00 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, November 29, 2012.

Eligibility Requirements

Who is eligible to apply?
To be eligible, an applicant will:

  • be enrolled in a doctoral program in a graduate school in the United States (master's thesis research is not eligible)
  • complete all doctoral requirements except the dissertation and be ready to start research for it as early as June 1 and no later than September 1, 2013, with approval of the dissertation proposal no later than April 1, 2012
  • plan to do dissertation research with original source material at the Library of Congress
  • write the dissertation and receive the Ph.D. degree in a field of the humanities or in a related element of the social sciences (candidates for the Ed.D, J.D., or D.D. degrees are not eligible).

An applicant may be of any nationality but must be enrolled in a U.S. graduate school and be studying here, not on a campus abroad even if operated by a U.S. institution.

Proposed research must be conducted on-site at the Library of Congress for the entire duration of the fellowship.

Who is not eligible to apply?

  • Those who will be significantly engaged in writing their dissertations during the fellowship tenure. This is a research fellowship. Students may apply even if they have started dissertation research or done some writing, but CLIR's awards may be used only for original source research that applicants still need to do. Awards will not be granted to applicants who request support for intermittent research trips combined with the writing of their dissertations.
  • Those who will be conducting interviews and/or creating oral histories. This fellowship is not meant to support the creation of primary source material, such as oral histories. Applications which request support for research involving interviews or oral history creation will be considered ineligible, even if a part of the research period will also be spent conducting research at the Library of Congress.

Fellowship Tenure and Conditions

  • The fellow will receive a stipend of $2,000 per month for a period ranging from 9-12 months, and will receive an additional $1,000 upon participating in a symposium on research in original sources and submitting a report acceptable to CLIR on the research experience. The fellow will also be granted an additional monthly stipend of $500 to support living expenses in Washington, D.C. Thus the maximum award for 2013 will be $31,000.
  • Fellowships must begin between June 1 and September 1, 2013 and end within 12 months of commencing.
  • Fellowships cannot be renewed or extended.
  • Fellows are expected to devote full time to their dissertation research without holding teaching or research assistantships or undertaking other paid work.
  • Applicants may apply simultaneously for other fellowships, including other Mellon awards, but fellows may not hold other fellowships simultaneously with CLIR's.
  • Fellows may use stipends to meet living expenses, travel costs, and other expenses that enable dissertation research to be carried out, but not to defray tuition.

Successful applicants will agree to three special provisions of the fellowship opportunity.

  1. First, prior to the fellowship period, the fellow is required to participate in an introductory workshop about using original sources and the institutions that hold them. The one-day workshop will be held in mid-May 2013 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The fellowship program will cover all costs associated with the fellow's attendance at the introductory workshop.
  2. Second, within one month of the end of the fellowship period, the fellow will send to CLIR a written analysis of the fellowship experience. The fellow may also have the opportunity to present his or her report at a Library of Congress TOPS event, and/or to develop the report into a CLIR publication.
  3. Third, following the fellowship period, the fellow will participate in a one-day symposium about the fellowship experience. The symposium will be held in mid-October 2014 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The fellowship program will cover all costs associated with the fellow's attendance at the post-fellowship symposium.


    If you have questions regarding the fellowship application process, click here to contact CLIR. For questions regarding the Library of Congress and the Preservation Directorate, please click here to contact Dr. Fenella France, Chief of the Library’s Preservation Research and Testing Division.

    The information below is related specifically to the CLIR/Library of Congress Mellon fellowship. For general questions about the program, see the Questions section on the program's main For Applicants page.

    1. What new technologies and equipment might I work with during my fellowship at The Library of Congress?
    The Preservation Research and Testing Division uses a range of technologies and methods of analysis to furnish new information useful to researchers investigating original sources.

    • A hyperspectral imaging (HSI) system enables non-invasive recovery of obscured and degraded text, and unique identifiers such as fingerprints, as well as spectral analysis of pigments, inks, substrates, treatments and other conditions to reveal the history of technology, manufacture and use of original source materials.
    • An environmental scanning electron microscope (E-SEM) and an x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzer allow non-destructive or direct examination of collection and similar materials, enabling identification and new interpretations of the materials, treatments and changes effected by environmental conditions. The Library's handheld XRF analyzer can be taken out of the lab and directly into collection storage areas to allow analysis in-situ. This can provide information about elements present in materials that can link them to specific regions, or time periods.
    • The Library is also currently developing a handheld Fourier transform infrared spectroscope (FT-IR) to allow in-situ identification and assessment of magnetic tape and other modern storage media.
    • Gas chromatograph mass spectrometers (GC-MS) allow detection of minute quantities of organic compounds, enabling identification of modern and aged cultural heritage objects.
    • State-of-the-art environmental chambers, including a Weatherometer, allow accelerated and natural aging studies to forensically determine the nature and history of original source materials.
    • Finally, a specially designed scanning system, unique to the Library, can enable researches to capture sound from obsolete or damaged analog audio formats.

    All these tools can enable a researcher to formulate new interpretations of geographical and cultural origin of materials; their period of manufacture, associated use, history and technology (such as possible source or trade routes for materials), identification of relevant time period of pigments and colorants; and, sometimes, the state of mind of the originators of original source materials.

    2. Where can I find more information about the work being done at the Library of Congress?
    You'll find the website of the Library of Congress here, and their blog here. You may also wish to review the following articles and presentations regarding some of the available technologies and current initiatives at the Library of Congress: