First ever Chevening British Library fellows showcase their research

Junaid-ul-Hassan presents at British Library

The British Library and the Chevening Secretariat held an event at the British Library’s Knowledge Centre as an opportunity to showcase the research of the first ever Chevening British Library Fellows, Oluwaseun Obasola and Junaid-ul-Hassan. The event was also an opportunity to welcome the new 2017/2018 fellow, Partha Bhaumik.

The Chevening British Library Fellowship offers international experts a year-long project-based placement at the Library —  the UK’s national library and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. Fellows will have the privilege of working with the library’s extensive collections, and benefit from the broad range of professional expertise within the instution.

Oluwaseun discussed her research on ‘Big Data and Libraries in Africa’. She described how her objectives for her time here were twofold: Firstly to provide a platform to increase the awareness of the work at the Library; and secondly, to improve the global access and visibility of obscure research datasets. During her fellowship she produced a video providing an introduction to digitisation and digital archiving for librarians. To improve access to obscure datasets, she created a new online directory of research data called DODRIA - Directory of Data Repositories in Africa

Junaid-ul-Hassan outlined his research topic entitled, ‘Media and Journalism: Past and Present’. His project was to review and effectively catalogue newspapers from the Library's South Asia collection, which includes over 60,000 periodicals and newspapers. Junaid worked on classifying the paper catalogues and updated the online catalogues so that this set of archives was more accessible to researchers.

Oluwaseun Obasola (left) and Junaid-ul-Hassan (right) during their presentations.

When asked how the Chevening British Library Fellowship has impacted her, Oluwaseun said, 'the biggest thing I've gained is knowledge transfer. You get to learn about the collections, the standards, and have access to great resources. The British Library has the capacity to meet the information needs of various stakeholders, they have special collections, and different projects going on. This all means that I've been able to gain a lot of knoweldge during my time here.'

The latest fellow, Partha Bhaumik, was also present having just arrived from India. He introduced the audience to his research topic of ‘Nationalism, Independence, and Partition in South Asia 1900-1950’. He described how he was looking forward to discovering official records and personal accounts in the Library's collection and using its sound archives to build a database to enable future research on the subject.

Partha Bhaumik introducing the audience to his research topic ‘Nationalism, Independence, and Partition in South Asia 1900-1950’.

Talking about the unique and international nature of the fellowship, Maja Maricevic, Head of Higher Education at the British Library, commented, ‘This fellowship is based hugely around our international collections and having people here who are able to link us to these cultures and countries is an amazing thing’.

Maja Maricevic addresses the audience about the British Library Fellowship

Maja Maricevic discusses the highlights of working with Oluwaseun and Junaid over the last year.

The British Library’s collection encompasses all fields of knowledge in hundreds of languages, covering 3,500 years from some of the earliest written records to the digital collections of the present day.

Anne Marie Graham, Director of the Chevening Secretariat, introduces the three fellows
Junaid-ul-Hassan speaks about his research
Partha Bhaumik in conversation with Antonia Moon