Americas and Oceania Collections blog

Exploring the Library’s collections from the Americas and Oceania

15 November 2022

North American Indigenous Print Heritage Early Career Fellowship

The British Library welcomes approaches from those interested in applying for an AHRC Early Career Fellowship in Cultural & Heritage Institutions. The Americas curatorial section specifically welcome expressions of interest for the outlined priority research area, “North American Indigenous Print Heritage”.

How to Apply

- Read the information about the scheme on the 'Early Career Fellowships in cultural and heritage institutions' webpage, paying particular attention to the 'How to apply' section.

- Details about this specific fellowship, and other fellowships across different Independent Research Organisations (IROs), can be found on the spreadsheet titled "IRO priority research areas"

- Sign up for one of the following Town Hall events by registering here:

Mon 21 Nov, 2-4pm (GMT), online

Tues 6 Dec, 11am-2pm (GMT), V&A in person (recorded)

In the instance that you are unable to attend these and have questions about the research theme, please email the British Library's Research Development Team with 'N. American Print Heritage' in the subject line, [email protected] . Questions about the application process should be sent to the coordinator of the scheme, whose details are listed on the 'Expressions of Interest Form'.

- The deadline for submission of Expressions of Interest Form is 4pm (GMT) 16 January 2023.


Research Theme

Please note that the below proposed topics are indicative only, and we welcome conversations from those who are interested in developing a proposal on this theme with other approaches or concerns in mind. We also welcome approaches from those interested in developing a proposal across two of the Independent Research Organisations listed on the above spreadsheet, though please note that you will have to speak with the other IRO separately.

The Library holds considerable print materials related to Indigenous peoples in North America, from the early colonial period to contemporary works. Many of these publications have been inadequately or inappropriately catalogued. This creates difficulties for researchers working in this area to find materials, and even harder for Indigenous communities who are at a geographical distance to understand what holdings we have that are of relevance to them. We would welcome fellowship proposals that address questions arising from the management of these collections, and fostering connections with Indigenous Library and Information Science professionals.
We particularly welcome proposals that touch on:
• Ethical and methodological concerns arising from applying Indigenous librarianship praxis to a UK heritage collection;
• Using digital spaces to build relationships and foster partnerships with Indigenous communities and researchers;
• Applying digital humanities models to Indigenous print heritage, particularly overcoming practical barriers to implementing co-management models;
• Data sovereignty, metadata, and digitisation of Indigenous print heritage;
• Artificial Intelligence solutions to uncovering ‘hidden’ content;
• Practical solutions to overcoming accessibility barriers, and creating a supportive research experience for Indigenous library users in the UK;
• Potential educational uses of British Library print heritage materials.

Candidate Outline

Detailed information about eligibility is available on the funding body website (UK Research and Innovation). Applications from UK based and international candidates who are eligible for a UK visa are welcome. Candidates must have either a doctorate in a relevant subject, or equivalent professional experience and skills.

The successful fellow would be working closely with materials by or about Native Americans and/or First Nations peoples that are culturally sensitive. Consequently, the ideal candidate could demonstrate either lived experience of, or disciplinary expertise in North American Indigenous Studies. We would especially welcome applicants that have an interest in Indigenous librarianship or archival practices and protocols as this will facilitate engagement with best practice.

The Library would be particularly interested in hosting a fellow who demonstrates an interest in making cultural materials more accessible using library science and/or digital humanities methods, as several of the outlined priority research areas would involve questions regarding digital accessibility and data sovereignty. Existing training or experience in such techniques would be beneficial, though a willingness to develop these skills during the fellowship is also welcome.

Finally, we would particularly welcome hosting a fellow who is able to demonstrate experience of either carrying out community-based cultural activities, or collaborating with Indigenous communities on such initiatives. These skills will facilitate the building of trusting reciprocal relationships and networks with Indigenous communities and professionals.

Additional information

Potential fellows are encouraged to engage with networks of Indigenous librarians, and relevant communities whose cultures and histories are represented in the Library’s collection.

The fellow would also have the opportunity to engage with the University of Kent’s Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies. The Centre for Indigenous and Settler Colonial Studies is the UK’s only Indigenous Studies research centre. It provides a meeting ground for UK based researchers, visiting Indigenous researchers and creative practitioners, and interested parties from other disciplines. The Centre would support the fellow by providing a forum for debate on emerging methodologies, a space for meeting researchers and building a network, and potentially hosting presentations by the fellow. The Centre’s Director, Professor David Stirrup, would provide support with understanding and experience of methodologies for ethical collaborative practices between UK cultural institutions and Indigenous communities. Specifically, he has experience of joint working with print heritage collections and Native American librarians, and could support with understanding of library systems, Indigenous librarianship practices, and relevant contacts related to these. Finally, as well as strengths in Indigenous Studies, the University of Kent has very strong and active Digital Humanities and Heritage Studies sections. The Centre is thus well placed to support interdisciplinary research, facilitate network building, and fostering new research directions in these complementary fields.

Applicants are also welcome to identify their own partnerships, and should indicate the status of any discussions in this respect in their "Expressions of Interest" submission.

Candidates interested in applying for a fellowship at the Library should refer to the following documents:

General information about the Library and our research
Library strategy and major programmes
Library policies and procedures
Accessibility statement for Library websites
Library catalogues and collection guides
Research collaboration
Annual Research Reports

North American Indigenous Print Heritage
Enabling Access for Everyone, the British Library’s Content Strategy
• Some bibliographies and guides to North American holdings (including works in Indigenous languages) can be found on the Eccles Centre for American Studies website. Please note that these are not comprehensive.
Blogs written by fellows and postgraduate students who have worked with the Library’s North American Indigenous holdings (and other topics).