Why Should a Library Invest in You? or, How to Succeed with Short-Term Library and Archival Fellowship Grants


SHORT-TERM library fellowships are quite likely the single most common kind of national research grant given out to scholars in the humanities. The Massachusetts Historical Society alone gives out twenty short-term library fellowships. Almost every major private university and scholarly library (including the Huntington, Newberry, Yale’s Beinecke, Harvard’s Houghton, and the New-York Historical Society), many public universities (such as the University of Texas, Austin), many major public libraries (such as the Boston Public Library and the New York Public Library), and many small specialized research libraries administrate these types of grants. They are often modest in their monetary amounts (ranging from $1,500 to $4,000) and almost always distributed directly to the individual scholar. They rarely cause much of a blip on the radar of most college and university accounts that track billion-dollar National Science Foundation grants or large institution-sponsored foundation awards such as those from the National Endowment for the Humanities or from the United States Department of State’s Fulbright program. Nonetheless, these modest library grants provide critical footholds for emerging careers. They provide money that isn’t modest to an underpaid assistant professor or struggling graduate student, and they provide critical logistical, emotional, and scholarly support. They usually presume a scholar will be in residence at the institution for any period between two to eight weeks. Their applications tend to be fairly

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