Internships in Special Collections: Experiential Pedagogy, Intentional Design, and High-Impact Practice

Maggie Gallup Kopp


Archives and special collections can be sites of deep, experiential learning for college students, through hands-on engagement with primary sources in reading rooms or classrooms and through mentored learning experiences like practicums or internships. Internships are a well-established component of formal education and training in the library and archives field, and many special collections and archives host internships for graduate students in library science and archives certificate programs; some institutions also host undergraduate student internships. Internships are recognized as a way for future archivists and special collections librarians to gain training and experience, “to connect the skills and knowledge gained” in coursework to day-to-day professional practice, and to “[engage] in meaningful work under the mentorship of experienced … professionals.” For libraries and archives, an internship is often a useful means for allotting additional manpower to projects like processing or cataloging backlogs, for promoting collections, or for recruitment.

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