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2020 HBCU interns during their Integrated Pest Management (IPM) online seminar with Amelia Parks and Nancy Lev-Alexander from Library of Congress.
Working in partnership with the HBCU Library Alliance, we established fully funded undergraduate summer internships offered at nationally recognized library preservation labs in 2018. Over the years, these internships have grown to accommodate 10 students per summer at eight sites, which currently include Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library; Brown University; Duke University; Harvard University; the Library of Congress, the University of Kansas; the Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin; and Yale University.
The program transitioned to an online format in 2020 and 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this experience led to the development of a hybrid experience beginning in summer 2022. The hybrid internships combine on-site, hands-on experience and mentorship with a synchronous webinar series that allows interns to share a core curriculum and build a virtual community with their fellow interns and staff instructors from all sites.
Led by HBCU Library Alliance Executive Director Sandra Phoenix and Winterthur Lab Head for Library Materials Conservation/Affiliated Associate Professor Melissa Tedone and supported by generous contributions from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Peck-Stacpoole Foundation, AKC Fund, other private donors, and hosting institutions, this internship program supports the HBCU Library Alliance's mission to "to transform and strengthen its membership by developing library leaders, preserving collections, and planning for the future," and seeks to benefit the conservation and library fields by introducing a pipeline for under-represented communities.
Goals for the internship program include:
This program's continued popularity provides a sustainable opportunity for introducing HBCU students to library and archives preservation, thereby encouraging increased representation in both the library and conservation professions. Past interns have helped to preserve a range of cultural heritage materials, from centuries-old wallpaper fragments from the Dennis Farm (arguably the oldest farm in the U.S. owned continuously by a free Black family), to early 19th-century American newspapers, Norman Bel Geddes blueprints, and a mid-19th century circus poster. Past intern projects have included conservation of historic campus blueprints at Fisk University; mold-mitigation training for special collections and archives at Morgan State University; creation of a 12-minute mini-documentary about the history of Johnson Publishing and the preservation of ephemera such as Ebony magazine; sewing book futons for safe handling of fragile books; binding a series of book models; conservation of family photographs using common household products; and the digitization of a family art collection and creation of a digital preservation plan to maintain it.
Information about how to apply for the Library Preservation Internship Program (including application deadlines) is posted on the HBCU Library Alliance website in December/January, and internship applications are due in late February/early March.
To learn more about the work of the HBCU Library Alliance, please visit: their website.
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HBCU 2019 internships. Left: Alicia
Bush, a rising senior at FAMU, spent her summer at the Harry Ransom Center at
the UT Austin. Center: Miranda
Clinton, a rising sophomore at North Carolina Central University spent her summer
at the Library of Congress. Right: John
Davies, a rising junior at Fisk University, spent his summer at Winterthur
Museum, Garden, and Library.
Huff, a rising senior at Morgan State University, spent her summer at the
American Philosophical Society Library. Center: Erin
Matthews, a rising sophomore at Hampton University, spent her summer at Yale
University. Right: Phebe
Pankey, a rising senior at Winston-Salem State University, spent her summer at