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*Position filled. Learn about current fellowship opportunities here.*

University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for African American Collections

Role of the fellow

The Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for African American Collections at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries (University Libraries) will increase the visibility, discoverability, access, and use of materials relevant to African American studies, including the potential use of these materials as data. The fellow’s work will intersect with data curation activities during each stage of the research lifecycle with goals focused on the development of models for describing, storing, and displaying community-driven data collections. The fellow will engage with Carolina researchers to promote the use of the deep and exceptional collections available from the University Libraries.

The fellow will make use of the data being collected from the University Libraries’ Community-Driven Archives, a project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support historically underrepresented history keepers. Based in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Special Collections Library, the project is built upon partnerships with African American communities, including the Eastern Kentucky African American Migration Project (EKAAMP), the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA), and the San Antonio African American Community Archives and Museum (SAAACAM).

Community-Driven Archives seek to create sustainable and accessible archives that support communities and contribute to scholarship in African American studies. The Community-Driven Archives project explores a range of archival management practices. Some of the data being created will become part of the Libraries’ collections, following the traditional custodial archival model where materials are processed, described, and made accessible to library users. Other data collections resulting from this project will be managed through participatory and post-custodial approaches, where archivists assist with preservation and curation, but data are processed in non-traditional ways and are ultimately retained by community creators. The fellow will use this unique opportunity to advance curatorial practices by focusing on the needs and interests of communities.

In addition to working with the Community-Driven Archives project, the fellow will engage with campus scholars in African American studies. By working with these scholars and through their own independent research, the fellow will be able to identify research use cases for data being collected through the Community-Driven Archives project and will have the opportunity to investigate Carolina’s deep collections through an African American studies lens to prioritize the curation materials for scholars of African American studies.

The fellow’s work will be situated in Scholarly Communications, which plays a vital role in making connections between scholarship and the diverse communities we serve. The Scholarly Communications office is also at the forefront of exploring questions around ethical access, so the fellow will be particularly well-positioned to explore post-custodial approaches to community-driven data curation.

Duties and responsibilities

The fellow will:

  • Work with communities, researchers, archivists, and librarians to facilitate the preservation and potential use of data collected from the Community-Driven Archives project. To accomplish this responsibility, the fellow may engage in projects such as:
    • Develop values statements to guide description, management, and accessibility of community-driven data collections, including collections that may not become part of the University Libraries’ permanent collection.
    • Collaborate with library colleagues to define a model for storage, management, and accessibility of community archives data, including archives that may not become part of the University Libraries’ permanent collection.
    • Investigate resources used for protecting, sharing, and managing digital cultural heritage materials such as Traditional Knowledge Labels and the Mukurtu content management system. Gauge potential utility of these tools for Community-Driven Archives.
    • Align community archives’ data description with donor community practices and norms.
  • Increase use of materials by African American Studies scholars and students. Examples of approaches the fellow may take to accomplish this goal include:
    • Engage with affiliates of the Institute of African American Research (IAAR) and the Department of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) to identify research use cases for data being collected through the Community-Driven Archives project.
    • Investigate other collections available from the University Libraries through an African American studies lens to highlight relevant items and identify formats most useful for scholarly use.
  • Work on (a) digital scholarship project(s) pertaining to African American studies utilizing data/digital materials from the University Libraries. Share feedback on use cases and best formats. To accomplish this responsibility, the fellow may engage in projects such as:
    • Create timelines, maps, or other visualizations to tell community stories.
    • Use text analysis on text corpora available from the University Libraries.
    • Create and analyze text corpora from oral history transcriptions.
    • Map community histories using Sanborn maps and directories.
    • Create a site using Mukurtu to tell stories from community archives.
    • Collaborate with UNC faculty on project(s) in a relevant subject area(s).

Desired skills and expertise


  • PhD in relevant subject area.
  • Experience in an archive, special collections, or professional experience in public history or community outreach.
  • Understanding of data curation practices.
  • Knowledge of digital scholarship methods.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Demonstrated adaptability and flexibility.
  • Enthusiasm for collaborating across departments, campus units, and community partners.


  • Strong commitment to public service, particularly in working with underrepresented communities.
  • Demonstrated understanding of the ethical and legal issues of archival work.

Local guidance and professional development support to be offered to the fellow
The fellow will have access to library staff members with expertise in scholarly communications, special collections, community-driven archives, data curation, digital archives, description, digital scholarship, and African American studies.

The fellow will be invited to join the Digital Scholarship Working Group, focused on Digital Scholarship and Special Collections, as well as the Born Digital Case Studies Interest Group. Both groups are cross-departmental and meet monthly. The University Libraries also offers several communities of practice (COP) the fellow could strengthen and benefit from, including the Scholarly Communications COP, the Digital Pedagogy COP, and the Project Management COP. Finally, staff members from the University Libraries are co-conveners of a Carolina Seminar, Transforming Inquiry Through Digital Text Analysis, which welcomes scholars interested in text analysis.

The University and The Libraries
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the country’s oldest state university. UNC Chapel Hill has an enrollment of approximately 29,000 students, employs more than 3,500 members of the faculty, and offers 69 doctoral degrees as well as professional degrees in medicine, social work, information science, and law. The University Libraries, one of the largest research libraries in the south, is an essential part of the University’s educational and research efforts. It includes 9 libraries on campus, including the Health Sciences Library, Walter Royal Davis Library, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, and the R.B. House Undergraduate Library. The University Libraries hold approximately 9.2 million volumes and extensive collections of manuscripts, audio visual, microforms, graphics, government documents and rare books. The Libraries is a member of the Association of Research Libraries, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the Center for Research Libraries. Together with the libraries at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, and North Carolina State University, the members of the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) provide services and collections to their students, faculty, and staff in support of the education, research, healing, and service missions of the universities.

The University Libraries are committed to increasing the diversity of its staff, and therefore welcomes applications from candidates who bring additional dimensions to our mission and work. The University Libraries invest proudly in our employees, strive to create a diverse environment of respect and collaboration, and encourage vision and innovation.

The Region
The Triangle region is one of the most desirable places to live and work in North America and offers its residents a wide array of recreational, cultural, and intellectual activities. The mountains or the seashore are less than half day’s drive from Chapel Hill.

Salary and Benefits
This is a two-year position. The salary for this position is $67,500 and is eligible for vacation, sick leave, and retirement benefits from the University.

To Apply
Please visit  for eligibility requirements and to complete the online application. Include a cover letter, a resume and the name, mailing address, email address, and telephone number of three professional references. The application deadline is January 4, 2019.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity employer that welcomes all to apply, including protected veterans and individuals with disabilities.

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