Ukrainian collections at the British Library: past, present, future.

Hosted by the British Library

Closed for applications

This fellowship is based in the British Library’s European and Americas collections department. The team of curators are responsible for an internationally-significant collection of materials in various formats relating to the history, languages and literature, art and social sciences of Europe and the Americas.

The British Library holds one of the leading research collections in the world for Slavonic and East European studies and for research on the former Soviet Union. The Library continues actively to build the collection, acquiring print and non-print materials from the countries of origin in vernacular languages and, where appropriate, material published by diaspora communities in the UK.

The fellowship will focus on a survey of the Library’s collections of Ukrainian language holdings, holdings in other languages printed in the Ukrainian territories, and materials about Ukraine, its history, languages and peoples. The Ukrainian collections are strong in literary and linguistic works by Ukrainian writers of the second half of the 19th century. The collections are also particularly rich in Ukrainian books published at the turn of the century and in the first three decades of the 20th century, both inside and outside Ukraine. At present, the research potential of these collections is constrained by the fact that they are dispersed throughout the Library’s catalogues, with varying levels of metadata, and are therefore hard to find, assess and promote to researchers and other audiences.

The fellowship provides the opportunity to address this. The Fellow will work with our curators, cataloguers and reference specialists in order to explore the collections and enhance their metadata, enabling improved and more straightforward access.

This activity will include a mini-project focusing on books related to the 19th century Ukrainian poet, writer and artist Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861): The British Library’s physical collections include a large number of books relating to Shevchenko (including rare first editions and collections). The Library also has a separate digital collection of books relating to Shevchenko, as a result of a digitisation project undertaken in 2013 as part of the Endangered Archives Programme (EAP657). The fellowship provides an opportunity to enhance, standardise and link the metadata for the digitised and physical collections and in so doing to make both collections more accessible to researchers.

The fellowship will also be an opportunity for the successful candidate to promote the collections among researchers, students and other Library users, and to explore new ways of using and engaging with these materials. This will include working with digital formats and looking at how digital resources related to Ukrainian collections could be made more visible and more widely used. Alongside the resources that already exist, the Fellow will have an opportunity to work with the Library’s Web Archive, selecting and curating a collection of web resources on the Ukrainian diaspora in the UK.

Key Responsibilities

  • Identify and research the British Library’s Ukrainian holdings and materials about Ukraine and enhance the catalogue metadata whenever appropriate (including with regard to the Taras Shevchenko collections outlined above);
  • Promote the British Library’s Ukrainian collections through a series of blog posts and talks to different Library users and audiences;
  • Create and curate web archive collection of UK based websites that deal with Ukrainian issues;
  • Create a user survey (e.g. questionnaire and/or in-depth interviews with UK academics and postgraduate students in Ukrainian studies) and write a user needs report based on the data received.


  • A detailed spreadsheet (or enhanced bibliographical records on the cataloguing system) of examined holdings with bibliographic and provenance information that would enhance catalogue records;
  • A detailed spreadsheet (or enhanced bibliographical records on the cataloguing system) of Ukrainian holdings form EAP657 matched with the Library’s physical holdings with standardised metadata;
  • A Web Archive collection of sites related to Ukrainian diaspora and Ukrainian studies in the UK;
  • Social media promotion of the holdings via the British Library platforms, including posts on the Library’s European Collections blog;
  • A survey and user needs report

Skills and experience to be gained

  • Staff-level access to unique British Library collections and research resources;
  • Practical ‘hands-on’ training in metadata systems, cataloguing processes and bibliographic standards, including for Web Archiving;
  • Experience in disseminating project outcomes and in engaging different audiences through various communication channels;
  • Opportunities to apply language skills to support the strategic needs of a major research library;
  • Networking opportunities with British Library colleagues and external stakeholders;
  • Opportunities to attend the wide-ranging suite of British Library staff training courses, professional development workshops and talks.

Candidate requirements

  • Degree or equivalent professional experience in a subject relevant to the Library’s European collections;
  • Knowledge of the Ukrainian language, the history and cultures of Ukraine and former Soviet Union;
  • Excellent written and spoken English;
  • Experience in a research library, academic or other appropriate environment;
  • Some knowledge of cataloguing systems, standards or processes, ideally with demonstrable ability to catalogue materials to appropriate standards (AACR2 and MARC);
  • Interest in library and archive collections and in learning about the curatorial work of a research library;
  •  Ability to work both independently and in a team;
  • An interest in digital formats and in the tools and methods useful for digital research and scholarship;
  • Strong computer skills, with experience of working with databases and/or metadata an advantage.

This fellowship is open to candidates from Ukraine.

Applications are closed

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