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Three months of uninterrupted research. Heaven.

Three months of uninterrupted research. Heaven.
Fellowships at the National Library of Australia
30 March 2020

Every year, thanks to our generous donors, the National Library is able to host a select group of researchers through the National Library of Australia Fellowships program. These Fellowships offer experienced researchers from around the country and overseas the much sought after opportunity to spend 12 weeks at the National Library, focusing solely on their particular research project, with privileged access to staff, collections and facilities, as well as financial assistance through an honorarium, travel and accommodation support.

Former Library Fellow Associate Professor Catherine Kelly, 2014 

“The Fellowship was exactly what most academics are looking for, but rarely find: a supportive place to do serious work in a pleasant, relaxed environment.”2019 Fellow Dr Sam Lebovic.

“3 months of relatively uninterrupted research. Heaven” - 2019 NLA Fellow Associate Professor Kama Maclean

While these features of a Fellowship are obviously very enticing, some of our former Fellows discovered additional benefits that they were not expecting.

"I also appreciated the opportunity to give a public talk based on my research. It provided a nice moment to sit back and reflect on the work I had done,and an opportunity to test out some preliminary ideas."2019 NLA Fellow Dr Sam Lebovic

The public talk that Sam mentions is the live-streamed lecture delivered by each of our Fellows at the end of their residency, where they speak about their research project, new discoveries that they have made at the National Library, and their plans going forward.

For some, the lecture can be a springboard to other opportunities:

"The NLA lecture also gave my work, which has great relevance for contemporary Australia-India relations, a level of prominence in Canberra (DFAT in particular), than it would have otherwise done…The NLA lecture also brought my work to the attention of Radio National, and I appeared on Late Night Live discussing elements of it, which also gave my work broader public exposure."2019 NLA Fellow Associate Professor Kama Maclean


2019 NLA Fellow Associate Professor Kama Maclean in the Special Collections Reading Room, 2019

For others, it has been a new way of making contacts with individuals who can contribute to their research:

"I was also very grateful for the opportunity to deliver a public lecture at the Library and online, as this has been a fruitful point of contact for a much wider audience to learn about my project and contact me with their interest and ideas."2019 NLA Fellow Dr Ashley Barnwell

A National Library of Australia Fellowship can also be a great boon when applying for jobs and other research programs:

"During the period of my Fellowship, I was interviewed for and offered my first ongoing lecturing position… The fact that I had an NLA Fellowship came up in the interview, and certainly contributed to me being offered the job."2019 NLA Fellow Dr Daniel Midena

"By virtue of the status of the NLA, it has also lent my research a profile it would not otherwise have achieved and will probably have increased my competitiveness for other programs to support my ongoing research."2019 NLA Fellow Dr Ashley Barnwell

"I think there is professional kudos in being a Fellow, it adds gravitas to one's research and project."2019 NLA Fellow Ms Kaz Cooke


2019 NLA Fellow Ms Kaz Cooke in the Manuscripts stacks, 2019

And the benefit of being in the same space as other researchers, able to bounce ideas off each other, as well as support each other, should not be underestimated:

"The Fellowship experience was significantly enriched by the other Fellows, who were all smart, witty, supportive and able to spend time discussing our various projects as well as related (and indeed unrelated) issues around research, collections, etc. I value the friendships I established in the Fellows’ Room."2019 NLA Fellow Associate Professor Andrea Gaynor

"I consider myself very fortunate to have coincided with five other Research Fellows as well as two Creative Fellows. Three of these Fellows were ‘in residence’ for most of my Fellowship. We came from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, had different but, in some cases overlapping, research interests and were at different stages of our research careers which allowed for interesting conversations. This interaction (over a longer period of time that is possible at a conference) also provided me with valuable insights into other disciplines and institutions. The Fellows Room was a very congenial space in which to work, we enjoyed camaraderie, lunches together as well as occasional after-work social activities and the Fellowship will result in some ongoing collegiate friendships."2018 NLA Fellow Professor Lisa Adkins


Berthe Hoola van Nooten, Fleurs, Fruits et Feuillages choisis de l'île de Java, 1880,  nla.cat-vn4510987

Applications for the 2021 National Library Fellowship program are now open but will close at 5pm, 29 May 2020. If you think your research project would benefit from a prolonged research period at the National Library, take a look at our guidelines and get started on your application now.

I’ll let 2019 NLA Fellow Professor Elaine Hobby have the last word about why researchers should consider applying for a Fellowship:

“To other Fellowship applicants I'd say: if you're lucky enough to be awarded one of these, you'll have the best research experience of your life. Do it.”

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