The Buchanan Library Fellowship program supports hands-on student learning opportunities that build desirable skills and deepen students’ understanding of resources and services in Vanderbilt Libraries. With a focus on undergraduate instruction, the program connects faculty and professional librarians with students to work on experiential library projects and present their work at the end of their fellowship. Fellows learn new skills, earn a stipend of $1,000, and participate in experiences that add to their expertise and resumes. Projects may involve curating a physical or online exhibition, creating multimedia such as podcasts or videos, contributing new research via academic outputs (e.g. research poster, academic databases, or writing an article) or expanding technology and data skills. Through the Buchanan Library Fellowship program, the Vanderbilt libraries promote student research and experiential learning. Since 2010, the fellowship program has awarded fellowships to over 250 students.
- Build resume with completed innovative project
- Engage in inquiry-based and experiential learning related to a variety of topics in libraries and information science.
- Evaluate information from diverse perspectives in order to shape their own knowledge base.
- Work with leading experts in the library field
- Demonstrate persistence, adaptability, and reflection as components of inquiry
- Contribute to scholarly conversations by becoming a creator or critic.
- Synthesize and communicate information to a wider audience.
- Build lasting relationships with information professionals.
To be considered for a Buchanan Library Fellow position, candidates must be undergraduate students enrolled at Vanderbilt University in good academic standing. Required documents include:
- Completed application form including statement of interest
- Curriculum vitae including name, address, email, and telephone
Previously selected Library Fellows may not reapply for a new project.
Applications for spring 2024 are due January 10th. Students will receive a formal notice of their status by January 17th.
Spring 2024 Fellowships
Building Engagement at the Fine Arts Gallery: Audience Goals, Program Design
The Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery wants to understand our audiences and their interests. Fellows will conduct a listening session about programming. They will also collect data about visitors’ program interests by designing a survey and administering this survey to Gallery visitors. Fellows will collect and analyze data regarding community use, including current and future university course use, in order to identify potential Gallery programming. Each fellow will complete a program proposal, including engagement goals, budget, staffing needs, follow-up survey, and social media campaign. Fellows’ projects will be added to the Gallery web resources and will be used to help drive selected future internship projects.
Mentor: Mary Anne Caton
Contextualizing Consensus: Understanding Scientific Communication
In recent years, there has been much discussion about public faith in science. In these situations, scientific ideas are often portrayed as static, established, and unchanging. The reality is that science is a process in which researchers continually ask questions in the pursuit of objective truth. Even when scientists call something “settled,” they do so with an understanding of the context of scientific consensus, which is founded on the idea that new discoveries are always just around the corner. In this fellowship, students will explore the way scientific discoveries are adopted and communicated first within the scientific community and later, with the wider world. Students will learn about the process scientists follow to share new ideas with their peers, how consensus forms among scientists and ultimately shifts and changes as new ideas are studied and adopted. The Fellow(s) will work with library databases to research the history and background of scientific consensus to develop a narrative arc of consensus. They will be given a scientific topic to study, documenting the ebb and flow of consensus in that topic area. Lastly, fellows will utilize network analysis tools and citation analysis metrics to see if shifts in consensus can be visualized and if there are insights to be gained from this analysis.
Enhancing Civic Engagement Across Generations through Media Literacy Education
Another election year is already upon us and mis/disinformation loom larger than ever. In an ever-complicated media landscape where personalized news means you may never hear the other side and feelings often outweigh facts, how can media literacy help bridge the divide? This fellowship will raise awareness of media literacy education through student led discussions within the community. Fellows will utilize Media Education Lab’s Courageous Conversations curriculum to lead multigenerational discussions with teenagers and older adults. Each fellow will be expected to moderate a discussion – either on their own or with a partner — on one of the topics included in the Courageous Conversations curriculum. In addition, fellows will create a piece of media that helps amplify how media literacy can help enhance civic engagement. This fellowship will meet for 45 minutes weekly, at a time determined by a poll of selected fellows. Fellows may be asked to lead discussions outside of scheduled meetings at locations requiring transportation. Weekly time commitment should not exceed four hours.
Mentor: Emily Bush
Exploring and Interpreting the Archives of Phil Schaap, Jazz Critic and Radio Host
The Vanderbilt Libraries recently acquired the collection of American radio host/critic Phil Schaap, who specialized in jazz as a broadcaster, historian, archivist, and producer. Throughout his lifetime (1950-2021), he amassed a large, multi-format jazz collection including thousands of oral history interviews with jazz artists. This fellowship will create an online portal to this collection, synthesizing and communicating information about its contents to a wider audience of jazz students, researchers, and anyone with an interest in jazz. Fellows will have the opportunity to explore the diverse scope of the Schaap Collection and learn how to use primary source material to conduct research in jazz. Participants in the fellowship will discuss the challenges of presenting a large collection to interested researchers and how a researcher might approach these multi-faceted sources. The fellowship will culminate in a live and recorded lecture at the end of the semester that demonstrates the collection’s online portal, provides tips for potential researchers on how to use its contents, and features jazz ensemble performances (non-performers can opt to contribute in alternative ways). This fellowship will require a three- to five-hour commitment of your time per week and an agreement to attend weekly meetings.
Gateway to Traditional Chinese Monuments: Data Curation and Web Development for Cultural Heritage Preservation
This fellowship provides students an opportunity to help faculty to develop data for Architectura Sinica, a Chinese architectural history dynamic site archive and architectural thesaurus. Fellows work with a faculty member in the College of Arts & Science and library staff to develop entries on individual sites and/or add visual material for thesaurus of technical terms for Traditional Chinese Architecture. Fellows are acknowledged as co-authors for digital publication of the entries they complete. A pre-requisite of HART 2815 Digital Heritage: Methods and Practice is required to participate.
This fellowship puts Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus in a circuit of communications, providing fellows with the opportunity to engage with the nineteenth-century development of a network of turnpike roads and its wider cultural impact. This fellowship aims to trace Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein along the turnpike, the Holyhead Road that Thomas Telford (1795-1834), one of the finest civil engineers, constructed during the 1810s between London and Dublin. Frankenstein’s and the Monster’s sense of place will be reconstructed digitally by interactive technology to connect symbols or sites of memory in the broadest sense, including buildings, historical figures, monuments, landscapes, toll houses and features of Telford’s Holyhead Road surviving at the time of the survey, including the Menai Bridge. By working with both the current theoretical models of the field and the historical scene of the geographers who mapped, parsed, and paved England and its empire, this research project illuminates an important theme that scholars have already recognized but have not yet sufficiently developed, exploring question such as: How was turnpike related to enclosure: did enclosure require roads?; was enclosure an opportunity to rationalize the transport system?; and, was there local resistance to their development? Fellows will learn how Romantic literature is informed by the transport revolution, the circulation of goods and print, and the map of the world.
News Media Language Analysis
For nearly a century, Americans have turned to broadcast news as a primary source of information. During natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, or pandemics such as COVID-19, viewership of broadcast news spiked. However, despite experts filing the airwaves to guide the public on decisions around school, masking, testing and vaccinations, Americans remained confused. Somehow, the messages become distorted as they were passed from scientist/physician/health care experts to journalists. Journalists choose their words and headlines carefully, intentionally, and with purpose; the same could be said of scientists, so what is happening to the message? The hypothesis is that when scientists’ messages are filtered through broadcast news journalists, their message is altered, resulting in miscommunication, the propagation of disinformation, and panic. A preliminary visual examination of archival news clips suggests that the language of medical experts and scientists are filtered through tv journalists in a way that alters messaging and exploits the “newsworthy” value. To fully understand this problem, a deeper dive into the transcripts is necessary, as initial data analysis was problematic. In order to parse the communication problem, it is important to know who is speaking—scientist or reporter. This requires speaker labels to be assigned to each of the broadcast’s transcripts for analysis. This fellowship seeks a student interested in learning and applying machine learning to a real-life challenge. Using a software application called LabelBox, the fellow will be training a model that identifies the speakers featured in broadcast television news from 2020. Using the video content collected by the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, the fellow will gain experience working with a massive media collection and applying automated labeling techniques to enhance the research potential of this collection.
Open-Access Database Design: An Inquiry into Informational Database Use & Design in Libraries
Students in this fellowship will work together to write a paper outlining a design plan for an open-access math social justice lesson plan database. This paper will set the foundation for a database that provides educators with a wide range of lesson plans designed to promote equality, equity, diversity, and social awareness across various educational math levels. The aim is to bridge the gap by organizing a rich collection of lesson plans that address critical social justice issues. These include racial equality, gender identity, and socioeconomic disparities, among others. In addition, fellows will have the opportunity to investigate online information ecosystems and their impact on libraries. By collaboratively developing a paper that designs a resource for educators, we seek to promote inclusive learning environments that empower students to think critically, engage in constructive dialogue, and take active roles in building a more equitable and just society. This fellowship project invites undergraduate computer science majors or students with a database design skill set to support us in this critical endeavor. Fellows will work. With. Mentors to examine how databases play a crucial role in modern education for computer science and math majors as they help plan the creation of the EqualEd Repository.
On the Record: A Vanderbilt Law School Legal History Project Preserving the Wisdom and Legacy of Alumni
This fellowship is designed to capture the unique experiences, perspectives, and insights of our distinguished alumni during their time at Vanderbilt Law School and beyond, thereby creating a valuable resource for current and future students. Vanderbilt Law School has a proud tradition of producing exceptional legal professionals who have made significant contributions to their fields. This fellowship project aims to bring together these accomplished alumni to share their stories, advice, and insights, providing a rich and diverse tapestry of the Vanderbilt Law School experience over the years. The goal is to create an increased visibility and recognition for Vanderbilt Law School’s historical impact and continued excellence in the legal field. Fellows will work collaboratively to gain insight into the development of an online repository, while learning valuable skills in project management, legal research, media production, and the storytelling process, thereby providing valuable experiential learning opportunities especially to those undergraduate students considering applying to law school. A final deliverable will consist of an online collection of interviews of alumni and a presentation of the students’ involvement.
Mentor: Keri Stophel
Telling the Story of Civil War Nashville through StoryMaps
Using records, maps, and photographs from the Vanderbilt Special Collections & Archives, and other historic Nashville collections, this fellowship will continue to create a series of dynamic narrative StoryMaps projects: interactive, GIS-based visual tools that combine information on many individual locations into a single visual product, telling the exciting stories of Civil War Nashville. The projects map the important sites of the Battle of Nashville including the historic homes that were present. Mapped locations will be gathered from a variety of sources including information from photos, oral histories, period maps, and articles. Fellows will assist with historical research to compile and organize available photos, articles, and maps of important locations within Civil War Nashville as well as the geospatial data collection. Fellows will build StoryMaps using ArcGIS Online platform to continue to tell the story of the Battle of Nashville.
The Carnegie Libraries of Nashville
From the 1880s through the 1910s, Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of more than two thousand libraries throughout the world—an unprecedented program that permanently changed American philanthropy and American libraries. Six of these “Carnegie libraries” were built in Nashville; four still stand, including Peabody Library on Vanderbilt’s campus. This fellowship is seeking two or three students to examine the history of the Carnegie library program in Nashville. The study can be approached from many interesting angles—historical, sociological, architectural—and touches on themes ranging from urban planning and beaux-arts design to the history of philanthropy, city politics, and education. The pleasure of learning of olden times will be prominent in all cases. The project may include research in the Vanderbilt University archives, in the (online) records of the Carnegie Corporation, in Nashville Public Library’s archives, and in secondary sources—with optional field visits to the Carnegie libraries in Nashville (which could include photography). The end product will be determined by the fellows but could be a physical exhibit, an online exhibit, an article, a podcast, or some form as yet unthought of. Students interested in any aspect of this fellowship are warmly encouraged to apply.
Mentor: David Golann
The Special Collections Laboratory: Turning Primary Sources into Poetry
The materials held by the Vanderbilt University Special Collections & University Archives (SCUA) cover a variety of subjects and would span nearly five miles if laid out end to end. In this fellowship, students will develop their research skills by directly interacting with selections of these primary source materials, including diaries, letters, photographs, oral histories, and artifacts. Fellows will keep a diary of their experience and learn skills such as how to approach different formats of recorded information, how to find primary sources, how to read a collection finding aid, and how to decipher difficult handwriting. As the fellowship unfolds, students will use their imaginations to enter into the experiences of the people who created the primary source materials. Fellows will complete a portfolio of poems inspired by their research and will have the opportunity to showcase items from the collections and read their accompanying poems at an end-of-term public poetry reading. This exhibit/reading will increase visibility of the library’s collections and bring a new audience to SCUA.
Mentor: Mary Somerville McSparran