The Special Collections department offers internship opportunities to both undergraduate and graduate students who wish to gain experience working with archival collections and researchers. Primarily designed for academic credit and in collaboration with an intern’s faculty advisor, Special Collections internships are structured to last for one academic term. All internships are supervised and evaluated by the Manager of Research Services, Manager of Archival Processing, and/or other members of Special Collections staff. Special Collections internships are competitive and promote undergraduate and graduate research, scholarship, and creativity with a goal of more fully integrating Special Collections into the pedagogical and public missions of the College of Charleston to foster distinctive opportunities and relationships in the city of Charleston, state of South Carolina, and the world.
The scope of Special Collections internship projects is somewhat flexible, based upon the needs of Special Collections and the interests of an individual candidate. Some examples of possible internship responsibilities include:
Reference: providing reference support in the Special Collections Reading Room by assisting visiting patrons and students locate relevant primary source materials for their research. Students may also create research guides for specific courses of subjects of interest.
Exhibit curation: researching, mounting, display, and caption writing for Special Collections exhibits, both physical and digital.
Manuscripts processing: learning the basics of archival organization while arranging and describing all or part of a manuscript collection. This might include sorting, cleaning, arranging, boxing, researching the person, business, or organization, or creating and encoding finding aids to enhance access and discoverability of collections.
Digital projects: Digital projects might include research into collections, and providing images and information for blogs or chosen social media outlets.
Preservation: training in conservation activities can include repair of archival/rare materials; environmental monitoring; and stabilization and re-housing of library materials.
Special Collections intern candidates need attention to detail, organizational skills, and an ability to work with the public and on a team.
In addition to the internship project(s), special collections interns are required to:
- Maintain an internship log, including in it the experiences and challenges that they encountered over the course of their project;
- Complete an internship assessment and self-evaluation;
- Write at least one blog post or essay about their project, for publication in library newsletters or the departmental blog.
- Create a plan for next steps, if a project is not completed in the original scheduled duration of an internship.
How To Apply
Prospective interns should complete the Special Collections Internship Application (see deadlines below). After the application is completed and reviewed, Special Collections staff may schedule an interview with the prospective intern to determine fit as well as describe the current projects available at the time. Special Collections staff may elect not to take on an intern after this initial meeting.
Internship applications must be submitted at least 30 (preferably 60 for internships beginning in the spring) days in advance of the start of the internship term (fall, spring, summer).
Special Collections houses rare, unique, and historically significant materials. At any given time there are a variety of projects to complete. Tasks may include re-housing items into archival folders and boxes, labeling items, database entry, assisting with reproduction orders, scanning images, filing, and writing short descriptions of collections. Volunteers without previous archival experience will start with small projects, more clerical duties, or assisting other experienced staff, students, or volunteers on projects.
Volunteers are asked to make a commitment of at least 4 hours per week for an agreed upon length of time with the volunteer supervisor. Hours must be worked during Special Collections operating hours, which are generally Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. At times, Special Collections may not be able to take on new volunteers due to staff commitments and timing. Staff supervisors may, at any time, determine that a volunteer position can no longer be supported due to staff or volunteer commitment or volunteer work performance.
Volunteers must complete the Volunteer Application. After the form is completed and reviewed, Special Collections staff may schedule a meeting with the volunteer to determine fit as well as describe the current projects available at the time. Special Collections staff may elect not to take on a volunteer after this initial meeting.