26 November 2020
Applications are now open for an exciting new PhD placement working with curators from the Americas Collections. Under the title Digital Conference National Libraries Now: International Perspectives on Library Curation, current PhD students are invited to spend three months (or preferably the part-time equivalent) engaging with the complex challenges that national library curators face in building and interpreting collections, and making use of that research to shape and support an international conference. As a digital conference, there is the opportunity for this placement to be undertaken remotely.
The placement is supervised by the Oceania curator in the Americas collections, but the student will also be working closely with a team of curatorial staff at the Library to develop the first international conference for curators at national libraries. This event will bring together collections professionals from institutions worldwide to interrogate current challenges and the practical approaches being undertaken to address them, including what is considered national heritage, digital availability of material, decolonising strategies, engaging new audiences and our growing sense of social responsibility following unprecedented world events.
While the project can be shaped by the student's interests and strengths, the placement will involve building relationships with curatorial staff at international cultural institutions, researching digital platforms and networking tools, establishing a suitable methodology for an evaluative report on the conference, and supporting conference legacy work including conference proceeding publications, and a network platform for library curators. The student will also have the opportunity to work with other teams at the Library including Digital Scholarship, International Office and Cultural Events and is encouraged to make the most of access to the Library’s programme of staff talks, events and reading groups during their placement.
This placement project offers an opportunity for a PhD student to put their critical thinking skills into practice at a major cultural institution to help develop an international network of library curators whose work will influence and inform practice in national libraries and cultural institutions more widely in the coming years. PhD students in all areas of the humanities and social sciences are invited to apply, and we would especially like to hear from students with an academic or professional interest in cultural heritage and library and information studies.
Further information on eligibility, conditions and how to apply is available on the British Library website. The deadline for applications is 5pm 18 December 2020.
For informal enquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
26 September 2014
P.E. Doolittle, Wheel Outings in Canada and CWA Guide (Touring Section of the Canadian Wheelmen's Association, 1895). This work has been identified by the British Library as being free of known copyright restrictions.
Following on from our First World War exhibition, Enduring War: grief, grit and humour, and our work on Europeana 1914-1918, I was invited to speak last Thursday at a conference at York University, Toronto on the war and, in my case, digital commemoration. There were many stimulating papers and a tour of the Archives of Ontario's new exhibition, Dear Sadie, which follows the lives, some cruelly curtailed, of four Canadians during the war via their letters. Several papers also touched on Mary Borden, the American nurse and author of the initially suppressed The Forbidden Zone, and who is the subject of an Eccles Centre talk next week (3 Oct). As well as meeting colleagues, a particular highlight was the plenary lecture by Margaret Macmillan, 'Canada and the Great War'. During this, we heard a little bit more about how the two dominions of Canada and Newfoundland (of all the combatants, it was noted, the one nation without blame for causing the war) gained a greater sense of self- and nationhood.
After my talk, I had to come back to the Library in London. I had, however, a day spare, as it was too expensive to fly back without a Saturday night stay. It was time to explore the city and meet some Torontans (Torontonians?). The simplest way was to gatecrash the third annual Tweed Ride, which has been inspired by the original London Tweed Run and raises money for Bikes without Borders. It also proved an excuse to revisit Wheel Outings in Canada (picture above), which has been digitised by the Library and whose adverts include 'perfect pants at panic prices'. Perfect indeed for any neophyte tweed rider (p.12). Would it be wrong to admit that I had fun? In the spirit of contemporary collecting, I took some photographs, and in an a digital echo of the Canadian Colonial Copyright Collection of photographs (you can read Phil on the subject), I've added them to our blog in the modern mode:
12 April 2013
So, the day is here when Andrew and I get to show the first fruit of the Picturing Canada project to the world. Friday sees us present the initial outputs from the project to attendees of the GLAM-WIKI 2013 conference and it only seemed right to share it with our Americas blog readers too.
Digitisation is almost complete, with just the largest images still to come (a nice treat to end the project with), and while a few things need putting in place before we can host the images on the Library's Digitised Manuscripts page they are being gradually uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Here the collection has a dedicated area which will soon have an introductory blurb and you can browse the collection as it grows over coming weeks.
That said, what have we got to show you? I briefly described the history and content of the collection a few weeks ago on the Americas blog but here are some fun extra facts. First off, we have so far mapped the collection's contents to over 300 different locations in Canada and you can browse this on the map above. This time it's a vector map so you can zoom in and out, clicking on the buttons for details on the location, how many photographs there are from each area and what time period they cover. I'm afraid there's no direct link to the photographs yet, as we're still uploading, but it will be available in the coming months.
I've also got back to thinking about how the collection reflects the history of Canada. It provides a dynamic (and sometimes irreverent) lens on the many significant events that occurred between 1895 and 1924, both inside and outside of Canada. The above is one of the slides from Friday's presentation and it gives a highly selective and somewhat hap-hazard view of Canada's history during the period - but hopefully it provides a sense of some of the significant and / or interesting events of the period.
Over the course of the project Andrew and I have worked hard to make the metadata attached to these photographs usefully available as well as refining it and putting it to new uses. Hopefully the result of this will be a collection of photographs of use to historians of Canada, historians of photography, the writers of myriad Wikipedia articles and - you never know - the creator of the next cat-based meme.
I can live in hope... That said, if you put the photographs to any interesting uses please let us know.
[PJH & AG]
05 April 2013
No, nothing to do with Kerouac this time. It’s conference season again and we’ve been busy sorting ourselves out in an effort to get to the major annual gatherings.
The British Association for Canadian Studies conference Crediting Canada: Canada as an economic world leader? has already kicked off at Canada House. Sadly Phil is unable to get to all of it but he will be putting in an appearance today, when the conference transfers to the British Library. And Professor Phil Davies, Director of our Eccles Centre, will also be around and will introduce Professor Rosemary Chapman’s Eccles-sponsored Lecture From Cannons to Canon: Writing the Literary History of Francophone Canada.
Next up it’s the Society for Latin American Studies conference at the University of Manchester, and we’re pleased to report that it's luckily happening just before Beth goes off on maternity leave! She will be attending on Friday 12th April and has convened (and will be chairing) the panel Peasants, Liberalism and Race in the Americas, which will feature speakers from Chile, Peru, Mexico, the U.S. and the University of Zurich.
And finally, Matt, Carole and Phil Davies will be 'Heading West' for the 58th annual conference of the British Association for American Studies, to be held at the University of Exeter, April 18-21. As usual, Matt and Carole will have to arrive promptly as the BAAS Library and Resources Subcommittee session is up first, with Jane Rawson (Bodleian Library) on “A resource for American Studies students@: simply delicious,” and Martin Eve (University of Lincoln) on 'Issues Surrounding Open Access.' The rest of the programme is as packed and diverse as ever (with no doubt the inevitable infuriating panel clashes), but we’re particularly looking forward to the Eccles Centre lecture by Professor Paul Gilroy on Race and Racism in the ‘age of Obama,’ not to mention the Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony, which will include the announcement of all the Eccles Fellowships.
So, if you're attending any of the above, look out for us and come and say hello. We’re happy to talk to you about your research and how the British Library’s collections might help you.
We should also flag up that there are a lot of Eccles events coming up over the next couple of months. Immediately after the BAAS conference we have an exciting one day film-related conference Movies for Hard Times: Hollywood and the Great Depression, which is organised in collaboration with UCL's Institute of the Americas, but there's also much more to look forward to. You can find the full listing of Eccles events here.
03 April 2013
Photo © Alexander McIntyre
Professor Philip Davies, Director of our Eccles Centre for American Studies writes:
In March of this year the Eccles Centre hosted its most recent week of Congress to Campus UK events. Twice yearly, in co-operation with the US Association of Former Members of Congress, the Centre masterminds a week of events featuring former Democratic and Republican Members of Congress. This year I was joined by Cliff Stearns (Republican-Florida) and Bob Carr (Democrat-Michigan) for a range of conferences, discussions and seminars with students, office holders, researchers and members of the public. We met more than 500 people, and among the many topics discussed the 2012 election results, and the parties’ future prospects, featured prominently.
The re-election of Barack Obama was followed by much speculation about demographic change in the USA, and the implied inevitable decline of the Republican Party in a country where, for example, projections suggest that one-third of the population will be defined as Hispanic/Latino by 2050.
This figure is especially telling. Latino voters made up 10% of the 2012 electorate. They voted 71% for Obama. This group of voters has increased as a proportion of the electorate steadily in recent elections, and has swung increasingly to back the Democratic presidential candidates. In 2004 the Latino vote for Democrat John Kerry was equivalent to 3.7% of the electorate. In 2008 Obama’s Latino vote made up 6% of the electorate, and in 2012, 7.1%. If this Democratic grip continues, the argument goes, as the Hispanic/Latino vote grows, then by mid-century the Democrats could have a bloc vote from this group alone amounting to 25% of the electorate.
There are other startling aspects of this demographic shift. In 1980 Ronald Reagan began his influential period as president with a clear victory over incumbent Jimmy Carter. At the core of this overwhelming result was the support of 56% of the white vote. Mitt Romney had the support of 59% of the white vote, and still lost. Almost 9 out of 10 American voters in 1988 were white, by 2012 this had fallen to about 7 out of 10.
Obama faced re-election as a president whose first term legislative achievements had provoked controversy, in a poor economic climate, facing a united Republican Party opposition. Republicans were confident of victory, but while there was a modest voter swing away from the president, the Republicans failed to erode his electoral appeal very much, and certain key groups, especially young voters, cast the majority of their votes for Obama. Pundits pointed to the Democrats’ more skilled use of social media – for fund-raising as well as messaging – and to a ‘ground game’ that amalgamated the latest data analysis with dogged door-to-door canvassing.
There was some schadenfreude that the hundreds of millions invested in the campaign by Republican supporter Sheldon Adelson, by Karl Rove on behalf of teams of Republican supporters and by other wealthy backers of Romney and Republican candidates had failed to achieve its aims. How could these investors save their party, it was asked, if the demographic imperative is against them.
This is all very plausible, but the decline of the Republicans is not a done deal, and those Republican political investors have plenty of opportunity if they remain interested. Certainly the potential for political investment remains strong if the appetite for it remains. Adelson’s losses in 2012 amount to tens of millions, but his estimated worth approaches $25 billion. Others are not so fortunate, but the Republicans could accumulate a considerable war chest. But do they have places to invest?
Of course they do. In 2012 the Republican presidential campaign was unsuccessful against the USA’s first African-American incumbent, and lessons need to be learned about modern campaigning. The Republicans’ campaigns for Senate seats were an exercise in failure and farce, as candidates who had been selected by deeply conservative primary electorates made statements extreme enough to alienate the general electorate not just in their home states, but via mass media, throughout the nation. Again, lessons must be learned. But the great Republican success in 2012 was in the US House of Representatives, where they retained control in spite of the Democrats receiving almost 1.4 million more votes.
The US House is gerrymandered. In most states the design of constituency boundaries is a political exercise, seen as a spoil of victory. The exercise is usually performed by some combination of the state governor and legislature. Republicans have been very successful in many state elections. After 2012 30 of the nation’s 50 governors were Republicans, and in 24 states the Republicans controlled the governorship and both chambers of the state legislature – the Democrats had similar one-party domination in only 14 states. The federal nature of US politics gives these states victories particular value. Most domestic policy spending is done at the state and local level. Political groups at state level can use ballot initiatives and referenda to influence the political agenda. A substantial rise in spending on state judicial elections in 2012 suggests an increasing awareness of the political potential at this level. The combination of these and other factors presents the Republican Party with substantial electoral opportunities in 2014 and 2016.
2014 will see the second midterm elections of Obama’s administration. The presidential party usually does not do well in midterm elections, especially in second midterms. The Democrats’ gain of four seats in 1998 is only example of a presidential party gaining House seats in a second midterm in well over a century. Turnout declines at midterms, and it may be that elements of the Obama electoral coalition that performed so well for the party in 2012 will be less enthusiastic without Obama on the ballot. In the Senate 21 of the seats up for election are held by Democrats, 14 by Republicans, and about one-third of the Democrat seats are in states that voted for Romney – the Democrats again present a large target.
In 2016, especially if there are not strong signs of recovery, the administration will face a disappointed electorate. And the American electorate has shown an inclination to change its presidency regularly. Since 1952 only once has a party held on to the presidency for more than two terms. President Obama will not be on the 2016 ticket, and while Democrat Hillary Clinton may be the best known potential candidate, the Republican stable – including Rand Paul, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio – looks healthy.
The Republicans have opportunities in the short term to maintain their strength at state level and in the House, to make gains in Senate, and to make a credible challenge for the presidency. They have to adapt their policies and their strategies to the changing demographics of the electorate. And while voting loyalties tend to remain influential over time, in the long term though a group’s political allegiances cannot be guaranteed. When I look at my US Latino grandchildren I am not sure whether either will be Republican or Democrat as adults, but I look forward to their campaigns for office.
14 August 2012
We've been feeling decidedly down in the mouth after the Olympics - we’ve all enjoyed the last couple of weeks so much that it was inevitable that things would suddenly feel a bit flat. But we’ve now perked up considerably since we find ourselves not only very busy but with a lot to look forward to over the next couple of months. Matt and Carole are wearing their Beat hats as they prepare for the arrival of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road manuscript scroll in early October - how exciting is that! And then there is the accompanying programme of events, featuring a preview screening of Walter Salles’ new film of On the Road, and an evening with Amiri Baraka to mention just two. The full programme can be found on the BL’s website under events (check under each month), and details of the exhibition will be up very soon.
In addition to supporting some of the On the Road events/exhibition, our wonderful Eccles Centre for American Studies is sponsoring a fantastic range of autumn talks, including our Summer Scholars series (featuring e.g. Naomi Wood and Sheila Rowbotham, our 2 Eccles Writers in Residence), as well as events with Liza Klaussman (who, incidentally, happens to be Herman Melville’s great-great-great granddaughter!), Andrea Wulf, and Lord Putnam to pick out just a few. And how could we forget that there happens to be a big election coming up in the U.S. in November, and we of course have that covered too. For the full range of Eccles events see http://www.bl.uk/eccles/events.html/.
And as if that wasn’t enough, we’ll be showcasing some of our artists’ books on 4 September at Inspired by Artists' Books, we have David H.Treece speaking about The Meanings of Music in Brazilian Culture for Brazil World Music Day on September 7, and we'll be celebrating Jamaican Independence on October 5th . Finally, the Olympics are still in our thoughts as we look forward not only to Rio, but to our conference Social Change and the Sporting Mega-event on November 5, organised in collaboration with our Brazilian colleagues.
Whew! Hopefully, you’ll find at least some of these events of interest and we hope to see you at the Library in the near future.
15 June 2012
Roberto DaMatta. Photograph by Ronaldo Pelli
Last Friday the British Library hosted an international conference in honour of the Brazilian writer Jorge Amado. The event was a unique gathering of historians, novelists, film makers, anthropologists, diplomats, curators, students, and journalists from all over the world – a crowd that only an author such as Amado could inspire.
Considered the pre-eminent Bahian writer, Amado has had his novels translated into more than 40 languages. Friday’s conference was a rare opportunity to analyse the at once local and universal themes of Amado’s stories.
Over the course of the day topics discussed in relation to Amado’s novels ranged from immigration and the European Community, feminism and sexuality, the evolution of the Brazilian ‘povo’ as a historical and literary protagonist in the 20th century, and the struggle for racial justice. All of which highlighted not only that Amado’s legacy is one to be reckoned with, but also that his writing continues to articulate with struggles for social equality and freedom in today’s world.
19 April 2011
Back from BAAS, but I can't resist posting the image above, which was one of a collection produced for the conference by local schoolchildren.
Saturday and Sunday included more high-quality papers, and Heidi MacPherson's plenary on the transnational in literature - a concept that appears in a lot of other presentations as well. For a does of pop culture, I attended the comics session, which looked at the 'dreamspace' might work as a way of interpreting graphic novels, Superman's colonisation of key moments of American history (and hence the American collective imagination), and ethnic cartoons in the early twentieth century. It also gave me a chance to plug the Library's new acquisition, Underground and Independent Comics, Comix and Graphic Novels, available in our St Pancras, Colindale and Boston Spa reading rooms.
The conference wound up by Sunday lunchtime, but Alan Rice had organised a tour of places related to Lancaster's slave-trade history, including a visit to the grave of a cabin boy near Sunderland Point.
Americas and Oceania Collections blog recent posts
- PhD Placement Opportunity – National Library Curator Conference
- Wheel Outings in Canada
- Picturing Canada: going live (gradually)
- Team Americas On the Road: a busy spring
- Looking Forward: Congress to Campus, Party politics, and election prospects
- Team Americas looks forward to a great Fall events programme
- The World of Jorge Amado
- On the Road: BAAS II
- On the Road: British Association for American Studies, Preston, 2011
- Team Americas on the Road 2011: news from Birmingham