New Initiative Expands LOC Collections with AFC Fellowships for Cultural Documenting by Communities

News from the Field

The Library of Congress recently announced a new, multiyear initiative to connect more deeply with Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, and other underserved communities by expanding its collections, using technology to enable storytelling and cultural documentation, as well as offering more internship and fellowship opportunities, supported by a $15 million investment from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“Of the People: Widening the Path” is a new initiative by the Library of Congress designed to create opportunities for more Americans to engage with the Library and add their perspectives to the Library’s collections, allowing the national library to share a more inclusive American story. This work will enrich and expand the Library’s efforts to ensure that a diversity of experiences is reflected in the Library’s collections and inform how we use those materials to understand our past, present, and future. It will add important contemporary cultural expressions from communities traditionally underrepresented in Library collections, and sponsor opportunities for Black, Indigenous, and other minority communities to use technology to create new Library collections or add to the historical record using existing Library collections.

As part of this initiative, the American Folklife Center will be overseeing the Community Collections Fellowship program, a three-year program that will fund up to 10 fellowships each year for ethnographic fieldwork conducted within communities. This fellowship program is an exciting opportunity for people from across the United States to document the cultural expressions and traditions of their communities, with both technical and financial support from the Library of Congress!

The fellowships will be awarded through a competitive application process, and eligibility extends to individuals, groups, and small nonprofit organizations. Each fellowship will carry an award of up to $50,000 to support travel expenses, purchase (or rental) of equipment, stipends for those doing the documentation, or other expenses connected to fieldwork. Fellows also will have access to training offered by AFC staff in cultural documentation methods, preparation of files for digital preservation, and use of the Library’s digital ingest system. Staff will be available to provide technical advice, and will work with each year’s set of fellows to create a cohort for sharing knowledge and lessons learned. Funding has been set aside for fellows to develop public programs in their home communities connected to their projects, and in the fourth year of the initiative, they intend to bring representatives from each cohort of fellows to Washington D.C. for a public event celebrating the work that has been accomplished.

A full call for proposals will be available in the coming month. More details are at the blog at the link.  Be sure to subscribe to that blog and other Library of Congress media channels for announcements about this exciting program.

Click here for more information.

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