University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Digital Library Research Fellow, 2016-2018


The University of Pennsylvania Libraries seeks candidates for its Bollinger Fellowship in Library Innovation, a program that promotes leadership and innovation in library services for the digital age.  This two-year Fellowship offers a recent PhD a career-building opportunity to explore and help design new forms of data-driven support for research and learning.

Assigned to Penn’s Library Technology Services division, the Fellow will collaborate with collection curators, metadata specialists, business analysts, IT developers, and a computer scientist to study fundamental challenges in discovery, content delivery, assessment, and information presentation. The Fellow will have the opportunity to interact with library systems, users, and troves of data in pursuit of applied research that may influence catalogs and cataloging practice, researcher profiling systems, human interface design, repository tools, and the use of social media in understanding information seeking behavior and the use of data. In addition, the Fellow will have input into cooperative initiatives of the Penn Libraries and its peers, as they work to unlock the benefits of linked data and shared discovery networks. Work may also extend to direct interaction with scholars to help test and refine work stemming from the Fellow’s research, the range of which is limited only by the data available for mining-which are extremely broad.


Working with a range of the Libraries staff, the Bollinger Fellow will explore for publication and/or create or adapt for production solutions that:

  • Improve discovery, via better relevance rankings; surfacing relevant connections (within and across domains), and/or finding relevant emergent properties
  • Streamline access to materials (either for all resources available to a library’s users; or open access materials for everyone)
  • Further the understanding of library users and their needs; and the understanding of how best to take advantage of usage data while protecting privacy.
  • Improve understanding of genres, periods, and cultural and scholarly interaction: e.g. who was/is working or talking with whom?  What are their focuses of attention? What (and who) is being overlooked?  How can visualizations help us understand these things?


The Libraries will place at the Fellow’s disposal tools it is building or hoping to acquire that provide new data-driven services, including systems like VIVO, the Kuali Open Library Environment, Symplectic Elements, and Fedora. The list of possible data assets includes relational databases, Semantic Web linked data, and other data files, and covers a broad variety of topics:

  • Bibliographic data, e.g. Penn’s Franklin catalog; bibliographic records from other research libraries; HathiTrust; DPLA; Europeana; other OAI-harvestable sources
  • Authority and identifier data, e.g. LC authorities; VIAF; Getty thesauri; ORCID
  • Researcher activity data  such as that tracked in VIVO and other databases
  • Corpus/content data, e.g. HathiTrust Reseach Center corpus; Wikimedia content; Penn’s digital repositories.
  • Publication and transaction data, e.g. copyright registrations; publishers catalog data; Schoenberg Database
  • Usage data, e.g. Metridoc; Stackscore, other library usage reporting mechanisms, citation data, alt-metrics, and
  • Social media data, e.g. tweets, shares/likes, deposit on shared platforms.



  • Applicants must have received a Ph.D. after January 1, 2011 in Library Science, Social Sciences, or Humanities disciplines or Computer or Information Science. If a Ph.D. has not yet been awarded, all work toward the degree (including dissertation defense and final dissertation editing) must be completed before starting the fellowship.
  • A track record in creative analyses of data sets, or working in Library or Library-like services.
  • Demonstrated ability to conduct and manage research projects.
  • A knowledge of trends in current information science and how they apply in scholarship settings.
  • A sophisticated understanding of data and the power of data to inform services and open new areas of research and knowledge.
  • Demonstrated ability to articulate the opportunities of digital research to scholars.
  • Ability to work independently and collaboratively in a team environment.
  • Must be legally permitted to work in the United States between 2016 and 2018.


  • Some familiarity with object-oriented programming is a strong plus.
  • Familiarity with graph data and related foundational concepts of semantic data.
  • Some familiarity or working experience with digital libraries.
  • Demonstrated digital project management experience.
  • Knowledge of open scholarship trends, resources, and applications.


The University of Pennsylvania is a private, Ivy League comprehensive research university in Philadelphia founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin and his circle.  It comprises twelve schools, 4,200 faculty, and an enrollment exceeding 20,000 students, almost equally divided between undergraduate and graduate/professional school students. The Penn Libraries include fourteen libraries and an off-site research annex. Scholarly resources number nearly seven million physical volumes, more than a million ebooks, over 186,000 e-journals, 1,400 databases, and more than 2.5M local digital assets. Penn is a leader in the development of digital library services and collections and is aggressively experimenting with and adopting new technology in research and teaching. Penn actively participates in collaborative initiatives including the BorrowDirect and EZ-Borrow resource-sharing networks, the HathiTrust, the Center for Research Libraries, LOCKSS, and Portico and is a governing member of the VIVO Foundation and the Kuali Open Library Environment.  The latter places Penn at the forefront of developing a next-generation community-source technology to support academic library operations.  The Libraries’ state-of-the-art Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts features a humanities research lab and with the School of Arts and Sciences is a campus leader on the frontier of the Digital Humanities.

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