CLIR Issues 129
Number 129 May/June 2019
ISSN 1944-7639 (online version)
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CLIR Names 2019 Postdoctoral Fellows
CLIR welcomes 13 postdoctoral fellows as the sixteenth cohort in the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Fellows will work in data curation for African American and African Studies funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; in software and data curation for the sciences and social sciences supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; and in digital humanities, digital scholarship, and geospatial data curation funded by individual host institutions.
Fellowships are awarded to scholars who received a PhD degree within the last five years in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences. The program cultivates new leaders by giving highly skilled and articulate scholars broad exposure to issues facing academic libraries and cultural heritage institutions, practical opportunities to learn, and connections within the profession and beyond. Eighteen fellows from the 2018 cohort will spend a second year at their host institutions.
The new fellows will begin their program at an intensive seminar at Bryn Mawr College from July 28 to August 3, 2019. The seminar introduces fellows to issues facing twenty-first-century libraries, including data and software curation, and provides an opportunity for them to meet others in their cohort to share experiences and information. Fellows’ supervisors will also participate in part of the seminar to discuss expectations and strategies for maximizing the effectiveness of the fellowships.
Fellowship information is available at https://www.clir.org/fellowships/postdoc.
PhD: Learning Design and Technology; Comparative and International Education, Pennsylvania State University
Host: New York Public Library, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
PhD: English Language and Literature, Yale University
Host: University of Toronto
PhD: Geography, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Host: U.S. Agency for International Development
PhD: Hispanic and Latin American Studies, Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris III University
Host: Brown University
PhD: Egyptology, Brown University
Host: New York University
PhD: Geography, University of California, Berkeley
Host: University of Colorado Boulder
PhD: Communication Studies, University of Michigan
Host: Purdue University
PhD: Film and Visual Studies, Harvard University
Host: Carnegie Mellon University
PhD: African American and African Diaspora Studies, University of California at Berkeley
Host: University of Delaware
PhD: Political Science, University of California, San Diego
Host: New York University
PhD: History, University of South Carolina, Columbia
Host: University of North Carolina Greensboro
PhD: Education, University of California, Santa Barbara
Host: New York University
PhD: American Studies, University of Maryland
Host: University of Delaware
Assessing CLIR’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program
—By Alice Bishop
Sixteen years ago CLIR welcomed its first cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows. Since 2004, the program has changed and grown significantly, most recently with the addition of the Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for African American and African Studies. With the program’s expansion have come opportunities and challenges that merit reflection and analysis. Two assessments—one recently published and one just launched—will provide critical insights on the program, including which aspects have most resonance for host institutions’ developing staffing strategies and the career choices of former fellows.
Assessing Data Curation Fellowships in the Sciences and Social Sciences
Since 2012, with the support of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, CLIR has brought recent PhDs in the sciences and social sciences into libraries and other research support centers to advance services and practices in data curation through two-year postdoctoral fellowships. The experiences of the earliest fellows, as well as the broader contexts in which they worked, are documented in three papers now available on CLIR’s website, Postdoctoral Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences: Early Experiences and Contexts.
The first, contributed by Alice Bishop and Christa Williford, explains the motivations for creating the data curation fellowships and identifies the range of disciplinary backgrounds represented among the first three cohorts. Most notably, the paper describes the career choices these fellows made after their fellowship terms: many were hired by host institutions into permanent roles. Those who left for other positions still chose to remain in academic libraries, where they continue to do work related to data curation.
The paper contributed by Lori Jahnke and Andrew Asher summarizes the findings of a two-year study of the experiences and impacts of these early fellowships while pointing to key factors in academic culture that affect researchers’ investments of time and attention in making their data openly available and reusable. While many of the early data curation fellows undertook work to help build a stronger understanding of researchers’ needs within academic libraries, few were assigned to work within teams of researchers actively producing and using data. Entrenched attitudes about the division of roles and priorities between researchers and library staff hindered some fellows’ abilities to bridge this divide, whereas solid planning and resourcing for fellows’ work had significant positive effects on the fellowships’ success and resulted in greater long-term impacts for the host institutions.
The final paper written by Jodi Reeves Eyre analyzes 161 job postings in academic libraries between 2013 and 2017, including the period when the first three cohorts of data curation fellows in the sciences and social sciences entered the job market. The inclusion of “data” in the title of each of the selected postings signaled the importance of data-related skills to the hiring institutions, yet Reeves Eyre found that most positions were conceived as service-oriented, generalist roles rather than as specialist partners for researchers working in particular disciplines or methods. While some of the postings listed a master’s degree in library and information science or information science as a required or desired qualification, more descriptions invited candidates with undefined “equivalent” qualifications to apply, indicating an openness to professionals from diverse backgrounds.
Assessing Data Curation Fellowships in the Humanities
Since 2013, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has supported data curation fellowships in the humanities. As part of Mellon’s most recent grant supporting the program, CLIR contracted with two external evaluators, Liz Bishoff of The Bishoff Group and Tom Clareson of Lyrasis, to conduct an external evaluation of our program, with a particular focus on the data curation fellowships in the humanities between 2013 and 2022.
The assessment includes interviews, surveys, and focus groups with current and former data curation fellows and their supervisors. The results will help CLIR identify which aspects of the program have most resonance for host institutions’ developing staffing strategies and the career choices of former fellows. It will also help CLIR find ways to establish appropriate contexts for the program—PhDs working in academic libraries; data curation and digital humanities librarians in academic libraries; other short term, contingent positions within academic libraries; or all of these—while offering a more rigorous, objective analysis of the performance of the program measured against its stated goals. CLIR will publish the results in 2023.
Register Now for DLF 2019 Forum and Affiliated Events
Registration is now open for the 2019 DLF Forum, Learn@DLF, and NDSA’s Digital Preservation 2019, to be held in Tampa, Florida, in October.
The schedule has been posted for Learn@DLF, which precedes the Forum on October 13. Structured as a workshop day, participants will take part in hands-on sessions to gain experience with new tools and resources, exchange ideas, and share expertise with fellow community members. The schedule is available at https://forum2019.diglib.org/schedule/.
The Forum kicks off October 14 with an opening keynote by Marisa Duarte, assistant professor at the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Duarte researches problems of information, knowledge, and technology in Native American and Indigenous contexts.
Alison Langmead will present the opening keynote for NDSA’s Digital Preservation 2019 on October 16. The keynote, “Sustainability is Not Preservation,” will focus on Langmead’s experiences collaboratively producing the NEH-funded Socio-Technical Sustainability Roadmap at the Visual Media Workshop at the University of Pittsburgh. She will share some of the lessons learned from working through this sustainability workshop with more than one hundred people in six locations across the United States this past year.
The schedule for the DLF Forum and DigiPres will be released in July.
Forthcoming: Cataloging Hidden Collections Program Assessment
Later this summer, CLIR will publish an assessment of its Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program, based on a comprehensive analysis of reports from all 128 funded projects. The program, which ran from 2008 to 2014, granted more than $27.4 million to academic, cultural heritage, and other collecting institutions to reveal, through cataloging, previously hidden special collections.
Reminder: Recordings at Risk Application Deadline July 9
The sixth competition for the Recordings at Risk program is now under way. The program supports the preservation of rare and unique audio, audiovisual, and other time-based media of high scholarly value through digital reformatting. Awards range from $10,000 to $50,000 and cover the costs of preservation reformatting for fragile or obsolete time-based media content by qualified external service providers. Eligible media may include, but are not necessarily limited to, magnetic audio and video tape, grooved discs, wax cylinders, wire recordings, and film (with or without sound). Information for applicants is available at https://www.clir.org/recordings-at-risk/applicant-resources/.
Here’s a roundup of blogs from the last month:
Staying with the Trouble, June 6. CLIR postdoc Jeanine Finn reflects on working as a postdoc in library spaces, “messy configurations,” and “staying with the trouble.”
Pat Battin and Evocative Leadership, May 22. Charles Henry remembers Patricia Battin, who served as president of the Commission on Preservation and Access 1987-1994 and passed away April 22.
Nettles and Networks: New Ways to Tackle Wound Infections, May 16. Former CLIR postdoc Erin Connelly posts on a unique collaboration between the arts and sciences that draws on medieval texts to find new antimicrobials.