The goal of the Advanced Book Conservation Internship is to enable conservation graduate students or emerging conservators with similar experience to broaden and refine decision-making, manual, and technical abilities, and function as a cooperative and productive staff member in the special collections conservation laboratories (Conservation Division) of the Library of Congress. Interns focus on conservation problems in the context of a large research library and are challenged to develop solutions for a broad range of formats and collections.
Responsibilities include: documentation, examination, treatment, housing, collection surveys, environmental monitoring, emergency preparedness and recovery, and research. Advanced Conservation Interns are expected to work in the Conservation Division for 11-12 months, contribute to the annual treatment and housing actions performed by the Division, further the expertise in the conservation of cultural heritage materials through research, and to share these research results with Library staff and with the broader community.
The Advanced Book Conservation Internship is hosted by the Conservation Division of the Preservation Directorate at the Library of Congress. The Conservation Division includes staff specializing in book, paper, photograph, and preventive conservation. The Preservation Directorate has a Research Resource Center with an expansive collection of conservation literature that is available to Interns for their research.
Interns produce a variety of written documentation including checklist and narrative Library of Congress report forms and condition surveys. Interns document treatments with digital photography, employing specialized techniques such as photomacrography and transmitted, ultraviolet, and infrared illumination when appropriate.
Interns perform appropriately detailed examinations of objects in preparation for treatment and/or research. Techniques commonly employed include visual examination using a variety of light sources; binocular magnification; fiber and pigment analysis using chemical tests and polarizing light microscopy; spot testing procedures to identify adhesives, paper additives, and other paper components. Collaboration with the Preservation Research & Testing Division and access to additional analytical instruments is possible.
Numerous Library exhibitions and an active loan schedule require a portion of the Division's resources. Interns learn about the Library's exhibition-related policies and practices. Interns may participate in pre-exhibition examination and treatment and occasionally help with installation.
Interns provide proper housing for the objects they treat. Interns learn to construct the basic housing forms, including clamshell boxes, mats, and polyester film encapsulations.
Interns participate in the regular maintenance of the conservation laboratory with the rest of the staff and are periodically responsible for preparing stock materials. Interns experience firsthand the dynamics of working in a communal space with a large professional staff.
Interns have the opportunity to participate in preventive conservation activities such as environmental monitoring, stack cleaning, archival housing projects, emergency preparedness, and collection surveys.
In addition to practical exercises and projects, Interns are encouraged to conduct a research project that can be completed within the Internship year. Topics for projects are of the Intern's choosing and may be related to ongoing research projects, subject to approval by supervisors. Interns are also encouraged to fully utilize the Preservation Directorate’s Research Resource Center and to remain current with conservation literature.
Interns undertake a range of conservation treatments that build upon his/her current level of expertise. Interns benefit from the impressive size and scope of the Library’s collections that include medieval manuscripts to modern 20th century bindings and photograph albums. Candidates for treatment reflect the Conservation Division’s priorities in a given year. Interns learn various techniques such as dry cleaning, aqueous treatments, mending and filling (including leaf-casting), media consolidation, toning, rebacking, rebinding, tape removal, and stain reduction. Interns may have the opportunity to work closely with senior photograph and paper conservators on special book projects that require photograph or paper expertise.
The Library of Congress has tremendous quantity, quality, and diversity in its holdings. Interns have the opportunity to tour the other Directorate divisions as well as the many custodial divisions in the Library.
Training and Conservation Professional Activities
Interns have the opportunity to participate in outreach activities such as lab tours for visitors and are encouraged to attend relevant in-house lectures and conferences. Interns meet curators to discuss treatments and are expected to give a farewell presentation to Library staff on their year’s work and accomplishments. The Washington metro area is home to many museums and other institutions with conservation facilities that are available for visits and Interns are encouraged to be active in the Washington Conservation Guild.
Application Instructions and Process
The goal of the Internship is to enable conservation graduate students or emerging conservators with similar experience to broaden and refine abilities and function as a cooperative and productive staff member in the Conservation Division of the Library of Congress. Candidates will be selected on the basis of conservation knowledge, skills, and abilities, an active commitment to professional ethics as stated in the AIC Code of Ethics and Guidelines for Practice, effective communication skills, and an understanding of library and archival collections.
The Library may accept one or more Interns per year for the Advanced Book Conservation Internship. The length of the Internship is typically 11-12 months and follows the academic year. Minor variations on this schedule are possible depending on time available, current Library staffing and work load, and the candidate's interests and qualifications.
Citizenship requirements: U.S. citizenship not required; non-resident aliens must be eligible for U.S visas.
A complete application (only complete applications will be reviewed) consists of:
- Preservation Application Form [PDF: 174 KB / 4 pp.]
- Formal letter of interest
- Two letters of recommendation
Please follow carefully the instructions at the top of the form. If it is not possible to submit the requested materials by email, an alternative arrangement can be made.
- December 1-31: Applications accepted
- January: Qualified applicants will be scheduled for a phone interview and must submit written and photographic treatment documentation
- February: Interviews conducted
- March 1: Letters posted to applicants
- September: Internship begins
Interns may receive the Harper-Inglis Memorial Trust Fellowship -- limited funds that can help defray the cost of travel to and from Washington, DC.
Library of Congress
Because of security measures at the Library, all postal delivery may be delayed. We request that all application materials and inquiries be sent by email.