Fellowships: Gone Digital

Will Fenton, Director of Research and Public Programs

While the Library Company of Philadelphia physically closed to researchers last fall, our fellowship program is as lively as ever. In addition to welcoming half a dozen exemplary new postdoctoral fellows—and accepting applications for our Francis Johnson, Albert M. Greenfield, and Program in Early American Economy and Society Dissertation Fellowships—we’re committed to serving the 63 scholars whose research plans were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The challenge, of course, is that we cannot currently serve those fellows in-person.

Thanks to the industry, flexibility, and creativity of reference and curatorial staff at both the Library Company and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, researchers have continued to advance dissertations and book projects off-site since last December. This spring, no fewer than 15 fellows will complete residencies through our Remote Fellowship program.

Celestial Globe.

During a remote fellowship, scholars benefit from enriched remote reference support; access to a host of additional databases and resources; and new platforms through which to share and receive feedback on works-in-progress. In addition to the thoughtful and timely reference support that reference staff provides all researchers, remote fellows receive the following enrichments during their remote residencies:

  • A virtual consultation session with appropriate reference staff in first week of residency;
  • concierge-level reference support, including fielding requests for digital resources and/or producing reference-quality images
  • access to a new remote reference platform designed specifically for reference scans;
  • participation in virtual colloquia with the entire 2020-21 fellows cohort; and
  • access to professional development sessions offered in conjunction with Penn Press.

Having benefitted enormously from a Library Company fellowship during my doctoral work, I am keenly aware of the value of our fellowships. The combination of vast collections, expert curatorial support, rich public programming, and collegial community of fellow researchers has earned the Library Company’s fellowship program a sterling reputation. Our Remote Fellowship program seeks to carry forward the rigor, serendipity, and care of our on-site program during the pandemic. I can’t wait to see what our fellows create.