PhD student for the project Responsible Recommenders in the Public Library

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has a vacancy in the Human-Centered Data Analytics research group for a talented PhD student for the project Responsible Recommenders in the Public Library.

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) has a vacancy in the Human-Centered Data Analytics research group for a talented PhD student for the project Responsible Recommenders in the Public Library.

Job description

This project, funded by the KB National Library of the Netherlands, explores the practical implementation of ethical principles in the context of book recommendations for public library users. In the library community, efforts have been ongoing to identify values and principles that are important for library services, such as inclusiveness, transparency and privacy. However, these values and principles have not concretely been operationalized yet in the technical context of recommender systems. This PhD project will seek to change this by translating values and principles into concrete metrics, experiments and system design: we will set appropriate requirements on data and systems, implement prototype systems accordingly, and finally compare and evaluate these with stakeholders in the loop, using novel metrics that reflect the values and principles of the library. The project is a collaboration between CWI, KB, VU Amsterdam and Delft University of Technology. The PhD student will be co-hosted at CWI and the KB, and will become part of the Cultural AI ICAI Lab.


Candidates are required to have a MSc degree in artificial intelligence, digital humanities, information sciences, data science, computer science, science and technology studies or comparable. Needed qualifications for candidates include:

  • affinity with cultural heritage and the public library sector
  • ability to collaborate within an interdisciplinary team and to present complex AI problems to the interested layman
  • excellent knowledge of the English language
  • knowledge of (or willingness to quickly learn) Dutch is not required but will considered an asset

The description of this project has been left intentionally broad. We welcome candidates with a diverse range of academic backgrounds to apply and are open to adjusting the specifics of the project to the expertise and interests of the selected candidate. 

Terms and conditions

The terms of employment are in accordance with the Dutch Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres ("CAO-onderzoeksinstellingen"). The initial labour agreement will be for a period of 18 months. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended by 30 months. The gross monthly salary, for a PhD student on a full time basis, is € 2,441 during the first year and increases to €3,128 over the four year period. Employees are also entitled to a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.33%. CWI offers attractive working conditions, including flexible scheduling and help with housing for expat employees.

Please visit our websites for more information about our terms of employment: and​​​​​

Information and application

All applications should include a motivation letter, a detailed resume including two or three references, a list of MSc courses and grades, and a copy of your Master’s thesis. In addition, we welcome a description of maximum 200 words of what you would like to do in the project. The application deadline is December 16, 2021. We plan to have interviews with selected candidates shortly after this, on December 22 and 23.

For residents outside the EER-area, a Toefl English language test might be required.

For more information about the vacancy, please contact Laura Hollink, email

For more information about CWI, please visit or watch our video about working at CWI

Diversity code

CWI encourages a diverse workforce: we endeavour to develop talent and creativity by bringing people from different backgrounds and cultures together. We recruit and select based on capabilities and talent. We strongly encourage everyone with the appropriate qualifications to apply for the vacancy, regardless of age, gender, origin, sexual orientation or physical abilities.

About CWI

Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) is the Dutch national research institute for mathematics and computer science and is an institute of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). The mission of CWI is to conduct pioneering research in mathematics and computer science, generating new knowledge in these fields and conveying it to trade, industry, and society at large. CWI is an internationally oriented institute, with 160 scientists from approximately 30 countries. The facilities are first-rate and include excellent IT support, career planning, training, and courses. CWI is located at Amsterdam Science Park which is home to one of the largest concentrations of beta science in Europe. A melting pot of innovation. Companies looking to collaborate can work together with brilliant students, scientists and fellow entrepreneurs. Collectively they develop revolutionary solutions for today’s issues and tomorrow’s challenges.

About Research group

The Human Centered Data Analytics group at CWI studies empirical evidence of how humans interact with data and systems. HCDA aims to develop data-driven methods that are transparent, trustworthy, diverse, and aware of cultural differences. To find more information about the HCDA research group, please visit the group page and watch their video.

The KB, National Library of the Netherlands collects and stores all publications that have been published in and about the Netherlands. Spanning over 125 km of storage areas for the physical collection and petabytes of storage for the digital collection, the KB is one of the largest digital heritage collections of the Netherlands. Above all, it builds the digital infrastructure for the public library system in the Netherlands, including the The KB is an important player in the field of AI and libraries, amongst other things by cofounding the Cultural AI Lab, the Future Libraries Lab and formulating ethical AI principles .

The Cultural AI Lab ( is an interdisciplinary ICAI lab. It is as much about using AI for understanding human culture as it is about using knowledge and expertise from the humanities to analyse and improve AI technology. In the project ‘Responsible Recommenders in the Public Library,’ CWI and KB collaborate with two other partners in the Cultural AI Lab: the User-Centered Data Science Group at VU Amsterdam and the Multimedia Computing group at Delft University of Technology.

To find more information about the HCDA research group, please visit the group page and watch their video.

For more information, visit our webpage.