Crowdsourcing for Western African Manuscripts Project/Fellowship.

Individuals from Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal are the target audience for the West African Manuscripts Crowdsourcing Project Fellowship.

The British Library is the venue

Applications accepted till November 1, 2022.

The Endangered Archives Programme will host this scholarship (EAP). The Program is well-known on a global scale for its work to protect documentary history that is in danger of being destroyed, neglected, or physically harmed. EAP provides funding for international projects that aim to digitize materials and store them both locally and at the British Library.

A community crowdsourcing effort will be created by the Chevening Fellow to increase the discoverability of some 10,000 Arabic-scripted West African manuscripts that have been digitally preserved. The EAP team wants to make sure that these manuscripts are given Arabic titles in the Library’s catalog so that local populations can more easily access them. The ratio of titles that are in the original script, English, or non-standard transliterations is currently unbalanced. The Digital Research team at the Library will offer.

By utilizing their current contacts and making new ones, the Fellow will direct and promote the crowdsourcing initiative. By utilizing the crowdsourcing project’s contributions and preparing the integration of the new data into the Library’s catalog, the Fellow will bring expertise, support, and guidance to the project. He or she will also have an understanding of West African manuscript culture and interested communities.

Concerning the British Library

The British Library is a public cultural institution and the country’s national library. We look after collections that span 3,500 years, from some of the earliest written records to the modern digital collections. These collections cover all areas of knowledge and come in a variety of formats and languages. This extensive and varied resource offers a plethora of chances to assist both analog and digital study, as well as cross-cultural collaboration with academics and organizations throughout the world.

Benefits

  • 12-month period of project-based activity at the British Library
  • Living expenses for the duration of the fellowship
  • Return economy airfare from home country to the UK
  • Up to £1,000 from the British Library for approved project-related expenses
  • Access to a programme of cultural events and activities organised by the FCDO and the Chevening Secretariat
  • Access to a highly regarded global network of over 50,000 Chevening Alumni

Candidate Requirements

Essential

  • Fluency in reading Arabic/Ajami script
  • Demonstrable knowledge of Islamic manuscript culture
  • Strong computer skills and familiarity with Excel spreadsheets
  • Excellent written and spoken English
  • Familiarity with using social media

Desirable

  • Interest in Digital Humanities
  • Understanding of cataloguing metadata
  • Written French

Individuals must be residents in their home country at the time of making their application.

This fellowship is open to candidates from Mali/Niger, Nigeria and Senegal

For all other eligibility criteria, please refer to the Chevening website: https://www.chevening.org/fellowship/british-library/

British Library Chevening Fellows are based at our St Pancras site in London and benefit from a unique research and professional development experience. They are embedded in their host department, but also in the Library’s wider postgraduate research community. The fellowship projects that we offer enable new types of research, inform strategy and foster international collaboration, and we deeply value the insights and expertise that Chevening Fellows bring.

The Endangered Archives Programme (EAP) seeks to preserve cultural heritage and make it available to as wide an audience as possible. To achieve this EAP provides grants to applicants to digitise and document archives. ‘Endangered’ means material that is at risk of loss or decay, and is located in countries where resources and opportunities to preserve such material are lacking or limited. ‘Archives’ refers to materials in written, pictorial or audio formats, including manuscripts, rare printed books, documents, newspapers, periodicals, photographs and sound recordings. It is one of the Programme’s key principles that the original material remains in the country in which it is located. EAP has funded over 450 projects in 90 countries resulting in almost 11 million images and 25 thousand sound recordings being made freely available online (https://eap.bl.uk/search). The Programme is supported by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

Important Responsibilities

Create a Zooniverse crowdsourcing project for West African manuscripts (guidance will be provided)
Promote the crowdsourcing project both inside and outside of West Africa and among relevant organizations.
Participate in the contributors’ community
To encourage increased interaction with the collections, publicize the initiative more widely through blog posts and collection highlights on the library’s website.

Key Responsibilities

  • Set up a crowdsourcing project for West African manuscripts using Zooniverse (guidance will be provided)
  • Promote the crowdsourcing project within West Africa as well as relevant institutions outside of the region
  • Engage with the community of contributors
  • Help promote the project more widely through blog articles and collection highlights on the Library’s webpage, to encourage further engagement with the collections.

Deliverables

• Make at least 5,000 Arabic books that will be added to the library’s catalog.
• Make a detailed manual for establishing a crowdsourcing initiative.
• In order to develop insights into an essay or presentation for the UK Libraries & Archives Group on Africa, create a document outlining the lessons learned (SCOLMA)
• An article describing the initiative in a newsletter or journal outside of Asian and African Studies
a staff discussion or show and tell session.

Development Opportunities.

experience working as a curator behind the scenes at a national library and important cultural institution in the UK
access at the staff level to the special collections and research tools of the British Library, as well as to staff training sessions, workshops, and lectures
an in-depth knowledge of the Endangered Archives Programme’s (EAP) work and the chance to collaborate directly with British Library professionals, especially the Digital Research and EAP teams
Possibility to improve spoken and written English through job experience and teamwork
Specialist crowdsourcing training and the chance to promote the project and engage audiences through a variety of communication channels, including attendance at the UK Libraries & Archives Group on Africa (SCOLMA) conference and networking opportunities within the British Library and among various external networks in the UK and abroad.

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