Authenticity Project

About The Authenticity Project:

The Authenticity Project, hosted jointly by the HBCU Library Alliance + Digital Library Federation, is an IMLS-funded mentoring and professional development program for early- to mid-career HBCU librarians.

Our goal is to build a more diverse, inclusive, collaborative, and cohesive next-generation digital library workforce, ready to work across types of institutions in building infrastructure of various kinds (social and technological) in service to a wide array of communities.



On Authenticity

The concept of authenticity has been a touchstone for us in advancing our organizational partnership and considering the impact DLF and the Alliance want to have, together, on the wider digital library community. The Authenticity Project is designed to help us “get real,” contributing to systemic change in the profession and improving the ability of predominantly white institutions and HBCUs to collaborate more fruitfully, equitably, and genuinely.

  Call for Mentors & Conversation Partners


About the opportunity:

Each fellow will be paired with two library professionals: a Mentor from an HBCU Library Alliance institution and a Conversation Partner from the DLF membership.  These librarians and technologists will support fellows’ learning through quarterly discussions on provided topics and, where possible, in-person meetings.


Senior HBCU librarians are invited to work with the program as Authenticity Project Mentors. Mentors will share their career experience and knowledge of HBCU libraries and provide collegial support, networking help, and serve as sounding-boards for fellows.

Mentors will receive a $300 annual stipend in acknowledgment of their time. They will also receive a free DLF Forum registration each year, and are warmly encouraged to attend the DLF Forum in October 2019 (Tampa, FL) to meet with mentees in person and engage with other participants at the Forum. In-person mentorship meetings are not required as part of the program, but if DLF Forum travel is not possible, mentors may alternately apply for up to $400 per year in reimbursement of costs to arrange a separate visit with their mentees.

Conversation Partners:

Digital library practitioners from DLF member institutions are invited to participate in the program as Authenticity Project Conversation Partners. These individuals will share their knowledge of the digital library field and provide collegial advice and networking assistance to fellows as they work towards their local and collaborative goals. Conversation partners will also receive a $300 annual stipend for participation.

To apply :

DLF and the HBCU Library Alliance seek participants who are willing to share their expertise and are committed to promoting positive, systemic change in the library field, including by broadening career pathways and professional advancement for HBCU librarians.

Mentors and Conversation Partners will be matched with fellows based on shared interests. Those who are matched will commit to participating in the program for the full year, from January-December 2019, and are eligible to return, if matched to new fellows, in the 2020 and 2021 program years.

Apply now!

Mentor/Conversation Partner applications will be accepted until 12:00am EST on November 16, 2018.


  Call for Fellows


About the opportunity:

Each year, 15 fellows from HBCUs will join their peers in a year-long, funded and facilitated program. Each will receive

  • full travel, lodging, and registration expenses for the DLF Forum and Learn@DLF workshops toward the end of each fellowship year
  • facilitated mentoring (with each Fellow matched to two volunteer mentors: one from the Alliance and another from the DLF community, and given quarterly discussion prompts to provide a backbone for conversations and exchange)
  • access to seed money through a microgrants program, to foster leadership among our fellowship cohorts and lead to deeper and broader collaboration among DLF and Alliance member institutions
  • access to an always-available Slack space, email list, and quarterly facilitated, synchronous, online video-networking sessions for Fellows, mentors, and eventual microgrant project partners
To apply:

The Authenticity Project Fellowship application will open on October 22, 2018. Potential fellows should submit the following elements

  • A brief statement of purpose that addresses the applicant’s interest in the program and in digital library topics
  • A curriculum vitae or resume
  • A letter of support from the library dean or director at the applicant’s place of employment.

Authenticity Project fellows will be early- to mid-career librarians, archivists, or other library employees who currently work at HBCUs and are interested in advancing their knowledge, skills, and professional connections in digital library work. Applicants should demonstrate a commitment to meaningful, community-building ideas and projects in their statement of purpose.

Fellows will commit to participating in the program for the full year, from January-December 2019. A joint committee of DLF and HBCU Library Alliance representatives will make selections.

Program Details

Monthly webinars:

During quarterly sessions jointly facilitated by leaders in the Alliance and DLF, fellows will learn and discuss topics together.


A pool of $15,000 per year will be made available to Fellows on a competitive or collaborative basis, for partnerships and projects they may wish to apply to undertake in small groups. These microgrants offer an opportunity for Fellows to dream up, compellingly describe, and undertake projects of strategic value together. Fellows may propose projects related to the development or adaptation/use of digital library software, workflows, materials, trainings, and best practices, or which convene relevant conversations and generate new knowledge or shared understandings. Based on applications solicited partway through the fellowship year, a joint committee of DLF and HBCU Library Alliance representatives will make microgrant allocations.

Outcomes for fellows:

Through the program, individuals will

  • find safe and supportive spaces for professional growth within their fellowship cohorts
  • forge meaningful relationships with mentoring LIS professionals and staff/board members at the HBCU Library Alliance and Digital Library Federation
  • engage in quarterly networking sessions and in-depth discussions that encourage conversation and skill-building
  • receive full support to attend and present at the DLF Forum and Learn@DLF workshop events in their fellowship year
  • have the opportunity to apply for microgrant funding to support projects that build community on a local or national level

This program builds on previous collaborations by DLF and the HBCU Alliance. Read more about those efforts and about previous DLF HBCU Forum Fellows.

Have questions about the program or the application process? Get in touch.

This project is made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant RE‐70‐18‐0121. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. They advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Their vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit