2017 Fellows Dr Anna-Sophie Jürgens and Dr Gillian Arrighi. Image: Sam Cooper

National Library of Australia Fellowships 

Applications have closed.

2020 Guidelines

The National Library of Australia, in partnership with its generous sponsors and donors, offers researchers an opportunity to undertake a three month residency at the Library. Applicants may work in any field or discipline where the Library’s collections have appropriate depth and breadth to support the desired outcomes. Fellows become part of the Library’s community of staff and scholars, including an alumni group of 150 eminent Harold White and National Library Fellows.

Funded and Honorary Fellowships are offered. Honorary Fellows, selected equally on merit, enjoy the same conditions and benefits but without financial support.

 As part of the residency, all Fellows will benefit from:

  • a sustained period of research based on the Library’s collections, noting that Fellows are expected to undertake this period in one block
  • special and supported access to collections and staff expertise
  • access to the Fellows room, with full office facilities and a personal workstation
  • copies of collection materials (within reasonable limits and according to access and copyright conditions)

Funded Fellowships will also receive the following financial support:

  • an honorarium of AUD $1,000 per week for 12 weeks
  • accommodation support, capped at AUD $700 per week for 12 weeks if required (not payable to residents in the Canberra region)
  • travel support equivalent to one return domestic airfare to Canberra (not payable to residents in the Canberra region). International travel is capped at AUD $2,500.

Fellows may choose to extend their period of residency, but no further financial support can be offered.

Please note: Fellowships are awarded to an individual. Funding will be paid directly to the individual for the purposes of supporting their Fellowship. Any other arrangements between the individual and their employer are the individual’s responsibility. As Fellowship support may have tax implications, it is recommended Fellows seek professional financial advice.

Fellowship categories

National Library Fellowships may be awarded to researchers working in any field or discipline. The intensive research enabled by the Fellowships can focus on Australian or international collections, with a view to creating publications or other public outputs, including curatorial projects or other research outcomes.

The research can be at any stage of development, or form part of a larger project. However, applicants must outline in their application their anticipated progress during the Fellowship residency, as well as how relevant collections will underpin or advance their research toward publication or other research outcomes.

The period of Fellowship research may lead to longer-term outcomes, rather than immediate publication or public outcomes. The Library does not expect Fellows to complete a body of work during the residency.

Fellows are expected to demonstrate their progress through engaging the public, staff and donors through live-streamed public presentations, podcasts and other communication.

Nine funded Fellowships are available: four are for research on any subject, and five are for particular fields of research. The funded Fellowships available are:

  • Three Fellowships supported by the Stokes Family, on any subject.
  • The Fellowship in memory of Averill Edwards, on any subject.
  • Two Fellowships supported by the Harold S. Williams Trust specifically for research in Japan Studies. Harold S. Williams donated his personal collection on Japan and the West to the Library in 1978 and his bequest has enabled the Library to support research using the Japanese language collections or other collections relating to Japan.
  • The Fellowship supported by the Ray Matthew and Eva Kollsman specifically supports research in Australian Literature. Eva Kollsman made a bequest to the Library, in honour of the Australian poet, dramatist and writer Ray Mathew (1929-2002) to support and promote Australian writing and literary research.
  • The Fellowship for Curatorial Research, supported by the Patrons and Supporters of the Library’s Treasures Gallery Access Program, is for research with a curatorial, museological or archival practice focus that will lead to enhanced public access, communication, exposure and interpretation of the Library’s collections. The research may enhance knowledge of and access to specific collections of any type, format or subject, or significant individual items. The research outcomes may encompass public access (such as exhibition, publication, events and education, digital scholarship, collection management and preservation) as well as more traditional research outcomes.
  • The Fellowship supported by the Minerals Council of Australia will be awarded to researchers whose interests relate to public policy, social research, strategic and international relations, resources, industry and the environment, or the economy. This Fellowship is suitable not only for academics and independent scholars, but also policy makers, industry specialists, social researchers, journalists or other professionals. Applicants must demonstrate their research capacity but, if more appropriate, may cite equivalent professional outcomes rather than research publications in their application.

Note: The Minerals Council is keen to support and promote wide-ranging research that provides historical, social or contemporary context and understanding in relation to its interests and activities. Research may include such topics as the social, economic or environmental contribution of mining, public policy, infrastructure, innovation, science and technology, resource or environmental management and sustainability, Indigenous relationships, economic diplomacy, international relations, industry and trade, security, community engagement.

Additional Honorary Fellowships may be offered to meritorious applicants. Applicants may apply either for funded or Honorary Fellowships, or for both, which indicates a willingness or capacity to accept an Honorary Fellowship if offered. Honorary Fellowships typically suit salaried academics in receipt of financial support from their universities for study leave or academics in receipt of other sources of funding for the same project but requiring intensive access to collections. The merit principle applies equally in the selection of Honorary Fellows.


  • Applicants may be at any stage of their career, but must demonstrate their capacity for high quality research or equivalent scholarship, including a strong and relevant publication record, or equivalent record of professional outcomes and accomplishment, relative to opportunity.
  • PhD candidates can not apply for a Fellowship for research towards their doctoral thesis.
  • The collections identified in the application must be specifically relevant to the project. Applications that do not demonstrate prior investigation as to how the Library’s collections will support the proposed research will not be considered.
  • Fellowships are open only to individuals and not to research teams. When an individual is contributing to a larger collaborative project, the applicant must be able to demonstrate their own component of research at the Library.
  • Applicants may be in receipt of funding from other sources, but must provide the details and show how the Fellowship funding will relate to other sources of income for the project.
  • Previous recipients of Fellowships at the National Library are not eligible to apply.
  • Australian Capital Territory region residents: Independent scholars living in Canberra or its surrounds, with easy access to the National Library, are eligible for funded Fellowships. This may include independent scholars or professionals who would have to take leave without pay from other employment in order to take up the Fellowship. 
    • Independent scholars from the Canberra region may receive the honorarium, if required, but will not receive accommodation or travel support. 
    • Salaried academics who reside in the Canberra region are eligible only for Honorary Fellowships. 
  • International applicants: Applicants may be citizens of any country but must be able to demonstrate why the collections at the National Library of Australia are important to their research. International applicants must be eligible to apply for an appropriate visa if selected and are responsible for securing their visas. The grant towards international travel costs is capped at AUD$2,500.

Application process

Applications must be submitted using the online application form. Hardcopy or offline applications will not be considered.

Applications closed on 5pm, Tuesday 30 April 2019 Eastern Standard Time. Late applications or support material will not be accepted. Please make sure you have allowed for any time difference and internet connection or submission issues.

Decisions will be announced in September 2019.

Completing the application form

The online application form provides space to succinctly outline and scope your proposed Fellowship research, and demonstrate the relevance of the Library’s collections in pursuit of your goals.

Mandatory fields, and word and file size limits apply. You will not be able to submit your application if the mandatory fields have not been completed or limits are exceeded. You can preview the form before starting an application, which will show you where limits apply. Once you have started an application, please ensure you save your form regularly as you go. You can save and edit the application, however, no amendments are possible after you have submitted.

You will be asked to describe your research project with specific reference to the collections you anticipate using. Library staff can assist with preliminary collection inquiries through the Library’s Ask a Librarian service. Applicants who do not show investigation into how the Library’s collections will support their proposed research will not be selected.

Applicants who are not research academics or independent scholars, but are employed or engaged professionally, may list equivalent professional outcomes instead of research publications to establish their record of accomplishment.

You may apply for either a funded or an Honorary Fellowship, or both. Ticking the ‘both’ option indicates a willingness or capacity to accept an Honorary Fellowship if offered.

Applicants whose focus is in one of the specified research areas should tick both the category of Fellowship (funded or honorary) and the relevant research field in the application form, as well as identify specific collections relevant to their field.

Fellows may start their residency at any stage after the Fellowships have been announced in September 2019 and the Library’s Letter of Offer has been accepted. Fellows must nominate preferred start and end dates in the application. These dates are indicative and will allow the Library to effectively manage Fellows’ access to space and resources. The Library is unable to accommodate Fellows between 6 January and 14 February 2020.

You will also be required to provide the following:

  • a short biographical statement
  • a CV (maximum two A4 pages) that outlines major professional achievements
  • a list of publications or equivalent professional outcomes (one A4 page maximum)
  • contact details of three referees. Ensure referees have a copy of your application, which you can download or print. Referees will be contacted by the Library after applications have been shortlisted.

Assessment process

National Library staff read and shortlist applications against the eligibility and selection criterion of demonstrated relevance and value of the National Library collections to support the research.

An independent Fellowships Advisory Committee, which is an appointed sub-committee of the National Library’s Council, is provided with the shortlisted applications as well as a complete list of all applications. Committee members can call into consideration applications that are not on the shortlist. Members of the panel include representatives from the learned Academies, relevant peak bodies, and the Director-General of the National Library.

Decisions will be announced in September 2019. Successful applicants will receive a Letter of Offer and have their names and the Fellowship awarded published on the National Library’s website. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email and may seek feedback on their applications by contacting fellowships@nla.gov.au

Selection criteria

Applicants should demonstrate:

  • an excellent research concept
  • innovative thinking or research approach
  • demonstrated relevance and value of the National Library collections to support the research, particularly where these collections are unique, rare or comprehensive, and
  • proven research or professional track record.

In assessing against the criteria above, the Fellowships Advisory Committee will consider the:

  • quality of the applicant’s research record, relative to opportunity
  • strength of the research project
  • demonstrated need to make extensive use of the National Library’s collections
  • clear articulation of research goals and expected progress during the Fellowship
  • potential benefit to wider scholarship and/or professional practice, and
  • capacity of the applicant to communicate research goals and outcomes to a wider public audience.

What is expected of a Fellow?

Successful applicants will receive and must sign and return a Letter of Offer from the National Library, which outlines the terms and conditions under which the Fellowship will proceed. Fellows will be required to:

  • give presentations, which may be streamed live, to the public, donors and Library staff that highlight the work undertaken during the Fellowship and research-in-progress
  • acknowledge the support of the National Library and the Fellowship donors in forums, presentations and publications resulting from the Fellowship
  • deposit in and inform the Library of any research outcomes of the residency, ensuring open access conditions for future research use if material is deposited
  • assist the Library to promote the Fellowship through media and public communications, including through contributions to social media
  • provide a report within one month of the agreed end date of their Fellowship outlining their experience, which will inform Council and the Fellowships Advisory Committee
  • support the Library’s donor stewardship activities.

Fellows retain copyright in any work produced as a result of the Fellowship, but are required to clear copyright in collection materials where applicable and acknowledge and cite source materials appropriately.

For more information or assistance, contact: fellowships@nla.gov.au