Remote Fellowship Program
In response to the unprecedented challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, the John Carter Brown Library will offer for the first time a remote fellowship option for sponsored researchers, beginning in the fall of 2020. The purpose of the remote fellowship is to enable members of our fellowship cohort from academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21 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 distance between fellows, focusing on some of our key institutional initiatives.
The JCB Remote Fellowship includes:
– A virtual orientation to the collection with Library staff;
– Scheduling one-on-one virtual meetings with JCB curators and librarians;
– Requesting digitization of rare materials (up to 10-15 items per fellow, exceptions may be considered);
– The possibility of presenting their research in the JCB Fellows' Talks (an informal seminar series that will take place in the summer);
– Participating in other virtual events for the JCB community, such as Show-and-Tell or Virtual Collaboration Sessions;
– An open invitation to write a short piece describing a library item (for the I Found it at the JCB series), which will be added to the website and also circulate in the Library's social media.
The monthly stipend for remote 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.
The ability to digitize materials requested by our remote fellows depends on several factors, primarily:
The physical characteristics and condition of the item
Our primary concern is the preservation of our collection, so several conditions may limit our ability to create a digital copy of an item, including excessive size, binding issues, fragile paper, etc. All items requested for digitization are reviewed for condition.
Available cataloging and metadata
The Library partners with the Internet Archive to provide access to our digitized texts, including items requested by our remote fellows. Once an item has been scanned, the digital copy is made available for all to use, and a link is provided in the catalog record for the item.
A full catalog record is necessary to provide access to digitized items, so in general, we can only accommodate requests for material that is represented in our online catalog. Insufficient cataloging can create delays in processing or preclude items from consideration for scanning.
The capacity of our digitization equipment and staff
We are a small staff, and the digitization of our rare material is not an automated process. We take great care to ensure that our materials are handled safely and that the images produced are of the highest quality attainable.
With a growing number of remote fellows, our digitization request queue may be quite long at times; we will make every effort to fulfill requests within a given fellowship time frame, but please be aware that some approved items may take longer to process, due to length and complexity. We would also encourage remote fellows to consider limiting their requests to items not currently available digitally in other collections, unless there is some reason the JCB copy is needed. This would allow us to focus our efforts on providing access to truly unique material.
In light of these considerations, a remote fellowship may be a very productive option for researchers seeking access to JCB materials that are fully cataloged. Projects requiring the examination of manuscript material (particularly archival material, like our collections of business papers) or large format items may not be good candidates for the remote fellowship.
We are happy to work with any of our fellows in determining whether this opportunity would suit your needs. Please contact Kim Nusco, Assistant Librarian for Research and Reference Services, for more information.