University of Texas at Austin

Postdoctoral Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American Studies

LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at the University of Texas at Austin invites applications for a 2-year CLIR post-doctoral Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American Studies. LLILAS Benson is a leader in post-custodial archival development and home of unique digital initiatives such as the Primeros Libros de las Américas, the Human Rights Documentation Initiative (HRDI), the Digital Archive of the Guatemalan National Police (AHPN), the Archive of Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA), and the Latin American Digital Initiatives (LADI) repository. The fellowship offers an exciting opportunity for the selected post-doc to develop skills as a Latin American studies scholar and digital scholarship practitioner, as well as to contribute directly to the development of LLILAS Benson’s post-custodial and digital initiatives.

In 2011, the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) and the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection forged a historic partnership under the name of LLILAS Benson Latin American Studies and Collections. This concentration of teaching and research has enabled new opportunities for collaboration between the two units, including in the area of human rights and digital initiatives.

A hallmark of this collaboration has been the development of a distinct post-custodial approach to preserving and providing access to vulnerable human rights documentation in the Latin America region, including initiatives such as HRDI, AHPN, and LADI. Rather than taking physical custody of these collections, LLILAS Benson partners with local archives and organizations and provides the archival training and equipment necessary to adequately preserve, arrange, describe, and digitize vulnerable human rights records onsite. This methodology allows collections to remain where they are created and used while supporting preservation and access goals. LLILAS Benson’s post-custodial practice is rooted in the establishment of deep collaborative relationships–horizontal and reciprocal in nature–with partner institutions, recognizing and valuing the expertise of each.

Key responsibilities
The Fellow for Data Curation in Latin American Studies will contribute to the development of post-custodial practice at LLILAS Benson, by designing and implementing metadata specifications for access and preservation of Latin American collections, and ensuring consistency of metadata practices and strategies across a variety of digital projects and processes. The Fellow will engage with post-custodial project stakeholders, including LLILAS Benson staff, scholars, and partner organizations, to identify metadata needs, develop institutional metadata best practice and policy recommendations, and provide follow-up metadata training as needed. In particular, the Fellow will focus on best practice recommendations for providing access to multilingual and culturally/politically sensitive digital content. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Improving the discoverability of LLILAS Benson’s post-custodial and other digital collections by developing and implementing a plan for subject access.
  • Liaising with post-custodial project stakeholders, including LLILAS Benson staff, Latin Americanist scholars, and partner organizations, to identify metadata needs and create best practice guidelines.
  • Generating best practice recommendations for describing multilingual and culturally/politically sensitive content.
  • Collaborating with software developers and other Library IT staff to refine and enhance LLILAS Benson’s digital repository infrastructure.
  • Supporting the ingest of new collections and migration of existing content by ensuring metadata quality and consistency.
  • Developing metadata training pedagogy in support of LLILAS Benson’s post-custodial partners.

In addition, the Fellow will have the opportunity to develop their own research project utilizing LLILAS Benson’s post-custodial collections and/or to support their use in research and classroom teaching by providing consultation on digital tools and techniques for analysis of the collections. The Fellow will be encouraged to participate in the organization of workshops and events related to post-custodial practice and digital scholarship, and to present their work at conferences and professional meetings.

Desired Skills & Expertise
The fellow will hold a doctorate in a discipline relevant to the study of Latin America, and demonstrate familiarity and/or expertise in digital scholarship. Experience with metadata schemas and standards, writing code, dealing with confidential or sensitive information, and/or managing digital assets are highly desirable. Professional working proficiency in Spanish and/or Portuguese required.

Professional Development
Although experience with metadata is preferred, additional training and support will be provided for the Fellow to develop greater expertise in working with metadata. In addition, the fellow will be eligible for LLILAS Benson professional development funding, which can be used for conferences, workshops, classes, seminars, or training opportunities. By working closely with LLILAS Benson’s Post-Custodial Archivist, Digital Scholarship Coordinator, and Head of Special Collections, as well as colleagues in UT Libraries Cataloguing and Metadata Services, Digital Stewardship, and Library IT, the Fellow will have the advantage of expert consultation and mentoring. UT Libraries also offers numerous workshops and other opportunities for exposure to digital tools and techniques that will support the Fellow’s professional development.