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New Pforzheimer Fellows Will Tackle Library Projects

Four graduate students to immerse themselves in modern librarianship this summer.


May 13, 2014—The Harvard Library will launch the Pforzheimer Fellows program this summer, which will bring together humanities graduate students who will have the opportunity to learn in-depth about the work of libraries today, especially about emerging fields in librarianship.

Named in honor of Carl H. Pforzheimer III’s generous contributions to the Library, the Fellows will work on projects under the tutelage of skilled librarian mentors and learn about career opportunities in  librarianship, touching on subjects like innovative collection building, online publishing and the management of intellectual property.

Professor Robert Darnton, the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University Librarian, proposed the fellowships.

“Graduate students face uncertain futures, especially in the humanities. Research libraries are seeking talent, especially in areas that require humanistic learning and technological skill. By exposing students to the possibilities of library careers, the Pforzheimer Fellowships will bring together an opportunity and a need in a way that could have long-term benefits for the world of learning,” said Darnton. "And in doing so, they will honor Carl Pforzheimer for his generous contributions to Harvard and its libraries.”

Libraries from six different Harvard Schools [FAS, GSD, HBS, HLS, Harvard Archives and Radcliffe] proposed ten projects for which graduate students were invited to apply. The committee fielded applications across disciplines and stage of study, from GSAS and the Divinity School, from G1s to students planning to graduate next year.

The Fellows bring diverse experience and interests to the Library. Professor Ann Blair, Harvard College Professor and Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, chaired the selection committee that evaluated applications from the students.

"The internship proposals and the applications were uniformly excellent and the committee faced some difficult decisions. In the end we favored making the best possible matches between the internship projects and the student applications,” said Blair. “We very much hope that the program can be continued next year, because there is clearly strong interest from both libraries and students in building the intellectual and professional partnerships that this program seeks to foster."

Alina Lazar, a second-year PhD candidate in Romance languages, was drawn to the opportunity to learn more about a resource she utilizes constantly. “As I became more familiar with the libraries I wanted to know how they work,” she said.

In the two-month program, the students will delve into projects proposed by the hosting libraries and, along the way, learn about the institutional realities and intellectual challenges librarians face.

The Pforzheimer Fellows will contribute to four projects:

  • “Revealing Zines at Harvard”: Alina Lazar, a PhD candidate in Romance Languages and Literatures, will work with the Harvard College Library’s collection of 20,000 zines acquired without an inventory. Her mentor Leslie Morris, curator of modern books and manuscripts at Houghton, has asked her to blog the experience and provide images and text while working on an inventory.
  • “Enhancing Access: The Papers of Heinrich Brüning, Chancellor of Germany and Littauer Professor of Public Administration at Harvard”: James McSpadden, a PhD candidate in the history department will survey the papers of Brüning and use  his previous experience with Brüning archives to create rich descriptions that will enhance access to Harvard’s Brüning materials and draw connections with Bruning materials held elsewhere. McSpadden will work with Robin McElheny at the Harvard University Archives.
  • “Web-Based Media and Map Projects”: Heng Du, a PhD candidate in East Asian languages and civilization, will create virtual tutorials on the use of library and museum objects and resources for undergraduates and help finish a project to digitize sea atlases. Du will work with Martin Schreiner, head of maps, media, data and government information for the Harvard College Library; Joseph Garver, Librarian for Research and Collection Development in the Harvard Map Collection; and Paul Worster, Multimedia Librarian
  • “Exploring Surface Table Technology in an Archival Setting”: Bradley Craig, a PhD candidate in African and African American studies, will explore the role of technology in the library’s efforts to share digital resources. Craig will work with Marilyn Dunn at Schlesinger Library.

The fellowships are accompanied by a stipend of $5,000 per fellow. The Fellows will begin their work on June 1 and will complete them with a report on their experiences to Diana Sorensen, dean of Humanities of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Du hopes experiencing a new side of academia will help her make informed career decisions in the future. "Especially at Harvard where there are all sorts of things going on, it is possible to explore various nontraditional ways of working as an academic," she said. "I'm excited to see where this path leads to."

The host libraries hope to gain much more than contributions to projects.

“We’re thinking of it not as just a way to get stuff done—we want Heng to get involved in our unit,” said Schreiner. “I want to give her a sense of the larger community here.”