Digital Fellowship Program for 2020-21

In response to the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the John Carter Brown Library will offer for the first time a digital (or remote) fellowship option for sponsored researchers, beginning in the fall of 2020. The purpose of the digital fellowship is to enable members of our fellowship cohort from academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21 (and specifically those who were scheduled to start their fellowships between July-December 2020) to do so as planned, while exploring ways of connecting virtually with JCB researchers past and present and consulting digitized materials both independently and collaboratively. 

The Library is well-positioned to carry out this innovative fellowship program. Extensive digitization work over the past decade has already enabled scholars the world over to consult our collection – in high resolution – at a distance, and our digitization team will be among the first staff members to re-inhabit the building in early August in order to continue their important work and cater to future researchers’ digitization requests. Our librarians and curatorial staff are preparing to support each JCB sponsored researcher with individualized attention through interviews and consultations at a distance, replicating the professional attention fellows normally receive in-person. And our academic programming team will be organizing a series of virtual activities – from collaboration sessions around special JCB materials to seminars and workshops – in order to foster community and intellectual camaraderie despite the remote status of digital fellows, focusing on some of our key institutional initiatives.   

Essential components of each digital fellowship will include:

– a virtual orientation to the collection with Library staff;
– regular one-on-one meetings with curators and librarians, which may lead to virtual collaboration sessions to consult digitized materials simultaneously, virtual workshops for fellows’ works-in-progress, and the option of connecting with former fellows or external scholars at the Library’s invitation;
– ability to request materials to be digitized specifically for the fellow’s research (approximately 10-15 items per month);
– participation in weekly virtual meetings with fellows-in-residence and other members of the JCB’s extended scholarly community; 
– the possibility of presenting individual research in different formats (Zoom presentation to other fellows, written piece(s) for website, video presentation, etc.);
– access to Brown University’s e-resources through a temporary Brown ID;
– and, last but not least, full remote access to digitized JCB materials. 

To ensure that fellows have access to the resources they require, the Library is recommending that only those fellows whose primary research materials are already digitized to a significant extent consider taking the digital fellowship (others will be allowed to defer their fellowship until health conditions allow for more extensive in-person consultation). 

At this time, short-term fellows who had planned to be in residence between July and December 2020 may request to take a digital fellowship. We may also extend this program into the future as public health conditions dictate. Fellows who choose to take a digital fellowship are expected to participate fully in the intellectual and social community of the fellowship cohort, and may also be asked to work with JCB staff to share their research on the JCB’s website and/or digital platforms.

The monthly stipend for digital fellowships will be $1500, reduced from $2100 due to a diminished need for travel and lodging in Providence and to offset digitization and other administrative expenses during the pandemic.